DESTROYING SOCIETY: Why Woke Culture Has Gone TOO FAR... | Konstantin Kisin | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "DESTROYING SOCIETY: Why Woke Culture Has Gone TOO FAR... | Konstantin Kisin".
Note: This transcription is split and grouped by topics and subtopics. You can navigate through the Table of Contents on the left. It's interactive. All paragraphs are timed to the original video. Click on the time (e.g., 01:53) to jump to the specific portion of the video.
I want to start with a quote from your hyper viral talk on the Oxford debate stage. You're talking about what culture. And so in the quote, you're going to say this side. So I just want people to know this side means this side of the debate effectively. And we on this side of the house are not on this side of the house because we do not wish to improve the world. We sit on this side of the house because we know that the way to improve the world is to work, is to create, it is to build. And the problem with world culture is that it's trained too many young minds like yours to forget about that. I want to know why is it training people to forget about that. There has to be a reason and there has to be a reason that that's catching on. Well, why can have two meanings, can't it? Because you can have the what for meaning or why as and because of. Right. And I don't think there's much of a what for. I think it's much more of a because. I think a victimhood sells well people in our current society believe that being a victim gives you advantages because it does because it does. If you say, you know, I'm an immigrant, which I am, therefore, and you list a bunch of things that are difficult for you, it's weaponized empathy. We live in a society where we believe that being a victim has some kind of moral value almost, right? And so I think we are we are training kids by incentives. We're incentivizing victimhood. And so people are becoming, you know, it's like these kids who, you know, who are like no point nor not not 1% Native Americans stuff like, why would you do that? Why are we now seeing increasingly people identify into groups that we're supposedly told that being discriminated against people claiming to be things that they're not actually in order to find themselves in a position where they can say, well, I'm a victim to, right? So I don't think there's any grand plan behind. I just I believe human beings respond to incentives. And if you incentivize victimhood, then you're going to get victims.
Questioning Society & Individual Philosophy
Why do these Issues Seem to Matter More to the Successful? (02:06)
Okay. I'll be with you on that, but it feels like this kind of thing is going to arise at certain times in history. So I started saying to basically anybody who would listen, this probably 15 years ago, maybe more that some people need to be chased by a lion. And it was me sort of grappling with this idea of people latching on to ideas that felt like there's nothing in your life crowding out you seeking a fight. And because the fight for survival isn't your daily reality and things aren't hard. Now all of a sudden you find yourself drifting towards things that don't yield the desired outcome because you're not in a life or death situation. And so I'll back that off and say, because I'm in business and the business itself is constantly in a life or death situation, you just become so pragmatic. And you have to look at data and you have to look at what is working, what is not working. And so there's a quote from Thomas soul that I have just become obsessed with, which is the last 30 years have been marked by exchanging what worked for what sounds good. Yes. And I'm just like, that makes sense. But it like I want those things to be true, those things being like some of the ideas of communism and stuff, they really sound awesome. But in reality, like the numbers just don't bear it out. And so that idea, I'm, I wonder if the ideas of what the, what divides the culture war of victim mentality, I wonder if those incentives became incentives because we actually have it so good. There's no longer a fight that's banging down your door. And it almost becomes a belief system that only people in luxury can have. Yes. And so I think there are two parts to it. I think yes, that, and you know, as you were talking, the line that came to me is life is suffering. Is that Buddhist? Is that what the Buddha say? The Buddha certainly say that suffering arises from desire. I don't know if they say flat out life is suffering, but it certainly sounds like something they might bring. Yeah. The ideas out there that life is suffering. And so if you don't have suffering, then you're going to create it for yourself. And you know, I, I don't have a great grand theory of this, but my own experience of life is that the very best things that I've experienced as a result of overcoming adversity. It's the most fulfilling thing. And not least because when you overcome adversity, it gives you the most powerful feeling that you can have that I've ever experienced, which is the, the being in control of your life. It gives you the illusion and it is just an illusion of being in control of your life. And so I think when you don't have that adversity, you're likely to end up in a position where you look for it elsewhere, you look for things to overcome. So yes, prosperity and comfort and safety and all these things that we enjoy in the modern West, I think produce this, but also you hit the nail on the head when you were talking about Thomas Sull, who's just, I mean, is a, is legit.
Ideas That Sound Good Vs. Reality (05:07)
The, the point that you make about substituting things that work for things that sound good is so apt to the current moment because of the internet, because of social media, because a lot of the communication about these issues is a product of a medium which rewards ideas that sound good and punishes ideas that sound bad. If I say to you, you know, what are, what are some of the things that are, that sound good, you know, all things to all people, look after everybody, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Sounds good. What if I say to you, your life is your responsibility. It's up to you to make what you want out of your opportunities and the difficulties that you experience. No one's coming to save you. No one, right? We both know this. No one's coming to save you, but it doesn't sound good. It sounds terrible. And so if you have a system which amplifies ideas that sound good but don't work, that is how you end up in the position that we're ending up in. And increasingly, some of these ideas are beginning to clash with reality, you know, and that's really the big narrative collapse that I see coming is at some point, these things will get so bad that reality will come and slap us in the face very, very hard. That's my big fear. So when I look at what's going on, when a society gets to the point that we're at where we're just hyper affluent, like even, you know, obviously there is a point where people don't have enough calories and okay, they have truly fallen off the ladder. But even for people that are in poverty and I have seen poverty up close, we were talking before we started rolling, I have gotten to know a lot of people that have grown up in the inner cities and so I've been inside their homes and I big brother for a kid in Compton and South Central, he moved around for eight and a half years. So I really, really got to see it up close. They have refrigerators, they have air conditioning, they have homes, but the neighborhoods are deadly and there is fundamental things about it that are completely broken. But there are so many luxuries that we take for granted. And so as I was looking at that and I had a thousand employees that grew up in the inner cities and I was like, wow, this isn't a money problem. This is a ideas problem. They have a mindset that is moving them backwards. But when I say that, I know how much that riles people up, but it goes back to what you said about it doesn't sound good to say that you're in control, that nobody's coming to save you. But that's what works. And so if you take Kobe Bryant's advice, it's rapidly becoming my favorite quote, which is that booze don't block dunks. And the idea that you can get so good at something that people can't stop you from succeeding. Now that puts you in a position to be aggressive in skill acquisition. If you get aggressive in skill acquisition and you meet minimum requirements, there is a certain amount of intelligence, which is why I love that there's a social safety net and I believe in all that and I think it's wonderful. Because there are some people that just aren't going to be able to compete in that sort of realm. But once you embrace, okay, wait a second, nobody's coming to save me, but I can get so good at something that matters. It could be being a school teacher. It doesn't have to be running a business or whatever, but I can get so good at that thing that I will always be able to make ends meet. I'll always be able to have room for my head comfort, et cetera. But that when we're in this state where we have that sort of default level of comfort, you get into a positive feedback loop where your ideas because your ability to eat is not hanging in the balance, that you end up in a situation where your ideas never get put to that life or death test. And so you can embrace ideas that aren't going to force you to move yourself forward. And when you're in that situation, there's nothing to unwind it. There's nothing to point out, this is a bad idea and it's not going to lead anywhere until it all collapses and the society breaks. And now people are in the kind of pain and suffering that you need to be in to make radical change. And Radialio really outlines as well with the six stages that any empire goes through. And the six stages total collapse. It's usually war and that's the transition from five to six. And he puts us in halfway through phase five and for anybody or stage five. Or anybody that doesn't know Radialio, but the largest hedge fund in the world. This is a guy who's put his money where his mouth is, bet that his assessment of the global macroeconomic situation is accurate and one more than anyone else in history. And he's saying, Hey boys and girls, you're at stage five and a half. And when when you look at that, do you see a way out of this? Do you see a way to get people to exchange what sounds good for what works? I don't want to give you an answer that sounds good, but doesn't work. I don't know. It's the truth, Tom. All I know is what my mission is in this space. That's all. All I know is I've got to say what I'm saying. I've got to try and wake people up to make them aware. Is it futile? I genuinely don't know. I just know that those of us who are aware of this issue have a duty to say something and have a duty to try and bring people to that understanding because if we don't and I keep making this point wherever I go, we don't operate in a vacuum. There are other people in other places who would also like to be prosperous, who would also like to be comfortable, who would also like to be powerful, and then teaching their children that their countries share. They're not teaching their children that the history of their country is defined by the worst elements of it. They're teaching their children to be strong, confident, intelligent, well educated to the extent that they can with the resources that they have. Whereas we are doing the opposite, we are using our tremendous resources to teach young people to hate their own country. And I'm not as smart as the guy that you're talking about in terms of being able to plot out the course of civilization. I'm just saying, look, maybe this isn't a good recipe for the success of our civilization and our society. And the reason I think that matters is that I have lived in places, many places, that are not the Western world, that do not operate by the same rules, that do not value the things that we value. And who's to say that some people would argue that the Chinese have their own value system and the Russians have their own, and they're all relative to each other and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, who knows who's right or wrong. I just know that for me and for people who are like me and who think like me, the preservation and survival and flourishing of the West is very, very important because the sort of things that we believe in, the sort of values that we have, they don't survive well in those other cultures. They're not celebrated or encouraged or... What are Western values?
Western Values Defined (12:34)
So I think there are several. I mean, one of them and the crucial one is the sanctity of the individual. This is the most important thing that separates us from everybody else, certainly from many other major civilizations. So if you look at, for example, what's happening in Ukraine right now, Vladimir Putin has absolutely no hesitation about sending hundreds of thousands of men to die in Ukraine for a small piece of land because the individual is not that valuable indeed in Russian mythology, not mythology as in gods, but the myths that society tells itself about itself. The sacrifice of the ordinary citizen for the monarch, for the leader is a noble and brilliant thing. And this kind of, we lost 20 million people in World War II. And yet people in Russia prior to this war and now, they would drive around Moscow with bumper stickers that said, "We can do this again." Right? Because we defeated Nazism and the fact that it cost us 20 million lives due to incompetence and all sorts of other things that happened under Stalin that made that war so bloody and brutal. That's fine. It's not a problem. We won and we can do it again. The Chinese, again, the way their attitude to, you know, COVID happens, let's lock you in your arms, fine. You know, I remember there was a, I don't know if you saw this, there was a clip of a drone flying around outside of one of these apartment blocks in Beijing somewhere which said, "You must suppress your something like unnatural desire for liberty," or something like that. Right? Wow. You missed quoting but the sense of it, the sense was the same. So the central thing of Western civilization is to me at least that I see is the idea that you matter, you as an individual matter, your rights matter, your, you have value in and of yourself by being a human being in a way that other civilizations don't because they're much more collectivist in nature. And so sacrificing, you know, it's like if you, if you had to cut off a toe to save your whole body, that's a good deal. Right? And that's how a lot of other cultures think about individual human beings too. We don't. We generally don't. We don't think about it in that way. We value the individual. And then on top of that, with that comes a whole slew of other things. If the individual is valuable and it's sacred in some way, that means that that individual has a right to express their opinions. They have a right to pursue happiness. This is written into the American constitution. They have a bunch of things that they're entitled to do to speak their mind, to research the things and science that they want to do. And in my view, you know, one of the reasons that we are successful in terms of science and technology is we have the culture that produces better science and technology because of those freedoms. Right? And this is the point I've always tried to make to people in the West is like the fact that we sit in this lap of luxury and technological sophistication and advancement and comfort is a product of our cultural values and our history. It's not all about colonialism. It's also about the fact that we had a certain way of looking at the world that was closer to creating the reality that we have than other ways of looking at the world. Right? And it's the preservation of that way of looking at the world that I think is really important. And part of the problem with what's going on now and one of the reasons that I oppose, you know, whatever you want to call it, progressivism or wokeness or whatever, is precisely because it is antithetical to those values. You know, the idea, for example, that human beings should be treated on the content of their character is not an idea that really exists anywhere in the world fundamentally other than the West. You know, the idea in Russia, the idea that like a gay man is equal to a straight man, is absurd. Would never occur to someone to think in that way. Gay people are minority. Look, we don't always have to beat them up, but they're not real men, right? That's a large part of how many people in that country would think. You know, if you're a weager in China, you get, you know, no one cares about your rights. You go in a camp and what bothers me about what we're doing in Western societies, we're undoing this very novel and quite radical idea by human standards that it doesn't matter what your skin color is. It doesn't matter what your sex is. We are going to try to treat each other on the basis of the fact that we're both individuals and connect with each other through our minds and through our hearts without looking at all the superficial meat suit shit that doesn't actually matter, right? That to me is valuable and I'm not prepared to be quiet when people try to throw out out the window. It's really interesting.
Mass Mind Virus, Slavery, etc. (17:56)
So the fundamental schism being the collective versus the individual, certainly an argument that I find very compelling, the thing that I think that addresses that see it's very out of fashion is that that idea plants the overcoming of things like slavery, like bigotry, like having a problem, like if you go back, you don't have to go back very far to see gay people being just absolutely ostracized and yet now being more and more welcomed because it's like if there is, and I'm not religious, but I like the idea of there's a spark of divinity inside every human. There's something special. There's something sacred and when you have that, that idea becomes a bit of a mind virus. And so even though it takes a distressing amount of time for these ideas to work their way in, you can go from the people that write the Constitution end up writing in this mind virus of all men are created equal when obviously at the time that they write it, they don't mean it literally, but it plants an idea in people's minds and that idea ends up taking over. And this is where, I don't know that I've thought through all of this well enough to be like plant a flag and say this is my take on it, which is actually one of the things I want to talk you about is how difficult these ideas are to work through, which is part of how I think we end up here. But so you have this mind virus that they plant in themselves, it takes hold and over time it keeps, you know, when people say the long arc of history bends towards justice, when you have ideas like that. And now what's weird though is this becomes an ouroboros for people that have ever seen that image of the dragon eating its own tail. It's like the very idea of the, and I'm not stretching beyond what I've ever said out loud before. But if you can help me in just course here by all means, you get by giving that sort of spark of divinity and having that idea in people's minds, you then get to the point of my live truth, the way that I feel matters. I am the divine. And so what I perceive is therefore real. And so it becomes this weird moment. And I have so much love and empathy for people to end up here because I really, the thing I've struggled with in my life is my intellect is just limited enough that I really struggle with like super nuanced things. I feel like over time I can get somewhere useful, but I have a lot of empathy for people they get lost in some of the nuance. So as you view yourself as having that spark of divinity that what I feel is so true that for others to not recognize that is somewhat of a personal affront. And if you're thinking that in a society where for the most part, like your basic needs are going to be met, you now get in a point where you haven't had the reality smacking you in the face that you were talking about that forces you to confront. I don't think this is working. And that gets us what we have now, which is very well intentioned people that are lovely, beautiful humans that have value in the spark of divinity, but their ideas are no longer bending the long arc of history towards justice. So very interesting thought. And I think one of the things that went unsaid there, but is fundamentally at the core of it is that society only works and I say this is an agnostic if there is a religious super structure imposed on top of it, which says, yes, you have the spark of divinity inside of you, but there's something greater than all of us that we are all connected through. Once you take that away and you put the human being on a pedestal, then yes, my lived experience becomes reality and the denial of my reality becomes violence or an attack on my very identity.
The Right Level of Analysis Is the Individual, Jordan Peterson (22:00)
That's where we are, where we are. So you're saying that we need a super structure to. So here's an interesting idea. Tell me if this jives with what you're saying. The right level of analysis is the individual. That's something Jordan Peterson said that really struck me like as you start to atomize things and think about where should these decisions be made, it will ultimately come down to the individual. I think he's right about that certainly in a Western context where it's not a collectivist vision. But once you get down to the atomized individual to avoid sort of ideological chaos, you have to have some sort of super structure that you exist within. That superstructure could be the constitution, the democratic experiment that is the United States. It could be religion, but it has to be something. And if we don't have a shared vision of what that superstructure ought to be, and I use that word with moral implications, then we run into the trouble that we're seeing now. And then you have a very polarized society in which people feel like they're not even living in the same country. Now, do you think each side of that debate is they have their own superstructure and that's what makes them a coherent side? Mm. Never really thought about that. So you and I are working through some stuff here that I've never really thought about how I'm loud before. So I may say things that I later don't necessarily agree with. But if we're working through it, do they have their own superstructure? Well, I mean, the conservative religious right have a superstructure. And to a certain extent, would we say that the work left has a superstructure above it? I mean, I think these sort of reaching for institutionalized whatever and systemic, whatever. It's an attempt to have a world view that is just as faith-based as the belief in a divine being if you think about it, because it's something that exists in the absence of evidence. Even if there is some evidence for it, the argument that the Ibrahim X Kendi type make is the, it's a circular reasoning. The absence of racism is only a reflection of the fact that someone is being racist but doesn't realize it. That's kind of how that works, right?
The Absence of Racism Is the Evidence of Racism (24:39)
So I don't know. The problem is that I think you need a superstructure that is in the words of a good friend of mine who's a Cambridge professor, James Orr. We've just released an interview with him in Berlin. We need something that's pre-political. And pre-political. And that is essentially something that we all take for granted. We don't really seem to have that anymore. And that's why I'm so concerned. I'm neither on the right or on the left, but when I see elements of the left go down the path of saying, "Our country is terrible. It makes me wonder, well, I don't know if they actually think that, but let's assume that they do." If you thought that this house was terrible or that your life was terrible or that the values of your country were terrible, why would you defend them? Why would you fight for them? Why would you teach those values and those ways of being to your children? Right? So if you get to a point where people are no longer willing to understand that, "Well, yes, our society is not perfect." It is the best society available and it is therefore worthy of protecting and defending and growing as a result. Well, then you've kind of got yourself to a position where I don't see this extreme progress or as me seeking to make America or Britain or the West better. I just see it as attempting to pull things down because they're not good enough. Right? That is a problem. Is your destroying that superstructure? Well, I think the superstructure has already kind of been destroyed. You're destroying, you're laying the foundations of a civilization that is incapable of defending itself. I don't mean physically necessarily. I think if the United States was to be attacked, there would be enough people who would go and fight to defend it right now. So that's a really interesting moment.
We Need a First Principles Superstructure that Progresses Human Outcomes (26:48)
And so it was literally just taking those on this idea. So I grew up in the '80s. Arnold Schwarzenegger movies were everything. America was great. You're a hometown of Russia. It was bad. Yeah. And it was awesome. And it was awesome because I had clarity. I knew that we were the best. I knew that you were the enemy. And that really gave me an anchor. And we had the same in the Soviet Union, by the way. You were the enemy. Of course. We were the great and everybody was happy. Yeah. So there, as I think about, what the actual note that I took is too many perspectives coming too fast. And so to your point about social media, what ends up happening is every time you try to anchor, this is my idea. Somebody hits you with, no, no, no, that idea doesn't make sense. And you're like, oh, damn, they kind of have a point. But now I feel unmoored again. And so then you're like, I just need a team. Just tell me what team I'm on. And this is how you get into the hyper polarization because I need, I need there to be a group of thoughts. So I don't have to think through every issue and contend with all the very intelligent arguments coming at me from both sides, because there are really smart people on both sides with really compelling arguments. And one thing I've learned just as an immutable truth, the reason that you end up in a situation where you have really intelligent people coming at things from exactly opposite ends is that there is truth in both sides. And so this is where then I'm like, okay, the superstructure I want for everybody is first principles. What works? What actually as we get closer to the laws of physics, and we are able to accurately predict the outcome of our behavior and the behavior of others, you know, you're getting closer to ground level truth. And that's like that would be my fantasy is that we can all get our heads around that. We can say this is our stated goal. What are the behaviors, the cultural inculcations that we need to do in order to achieve that? So you laid them out what the West has done, the experiment that we've run, the mind virus of the individual is the right thing to focus on because that leads to the seeking of truth in scientific realms, et cetera, et cetera. And I think a whole host of other things that are probably better not to completely fractal on right now. So going back to this idea of you've got all of these perspectives coming at you very quickly, you want to start bifurcating into teams so that you have an anchor. You don't have to think through all these different ideas. But the fascinating thing is even as everything is being eroded, if America were to be attacked, now suddenly you're in that thing where there is real hardship, there is real pain, there's real suffering. When somebody comes and kicks your front door and with a machine gun, it's like, whoa, now like this is really time to react. And moments like that, I think would be incredibly galvanizing. But again, that comes back to you need that level of pain and suffering that I really would love to find a way to avoid. But it's so going back to the idea of you've got, the way I've always articulated this idea is there is a God-shaped hole in everyone's heart. Now, I'm not religious, so I don't fill that hole with God. I fill that hole with biology. So if there were one thing I'm trying to get across to the world that is this, you are having a biological experience. Your brain works in a certain way. Once you understand your brain is influenced by your gut and that whatever, 85% of the serotonin in your body, which controls a lot of your mood, is actually made and stored in your gut. Like that's so startling to me. And thusly, what you eat is going to influence your mood. So now it's like, hey, this divine vehicle that you have, it's a vehicle. And it works in a certain kind of way. And if you take care of it, it will work well. And if you don't, it won't. And so that has left me with this tremendous sense of awe and this desire to go inward and understand how I work. And so that fills that thing for me that creates a superstructure so that when I am left with the atomization of I'm an individual person, I start going, okay, what are my moral, what's my moral compass? My moral compass, given what I just said about biology, the individual, I think it will make sense for people that my moral compass is all about what increases human thriving and decreases human suffering, right? It's going to be something very tactical, tactile. It's going to come down to what the individual is going through. And so everybody is going to need that thing for themselves. And I don't think they have that clarity in a world where so many ideas are bombarding them so quickly and the world that they are in is relatively affluent. And there's nobody with a machine gun knocking on their door. But any crisis like that collapses their ideology down to getting back to first principles. What works in this moment? What keeps me and my family safe right here, right now in this moment? It cuts out all the bullshit. I don't know if that made sense, but I made perfect sense except I would argue it's not true if you look at what happened during COVID. COVID was for a lot of people, at least initially an experience that should have been that thing that you talk about. And actually, I don't know if it was the case here, but in the UK for the first couple of weeks, it legitimately felt like, wow. We've all got something that is affecting all of us that is scary, that is dangerous. We don't know how dangerous. We don't know how scary, but what we've got to do is work together, look after the vulnerable, you know, pull in the same direction. It was exactly the same here. It was like that for a few weeks. And then I, this is going to sound political, but it's not meant political, it's just a statement of fact, and then BLM happened. And then all of the hypocrisy of how we treat different groups and all of that stuff suddenly ruined all of that. That's what I saw. Right. And this isn't, this is not even an anti BLM point. It was just like, you can't have everyone locked in the homes for weeks. And then the moment people want to protest about a particular issue, now going outside without a mask and protesting next to other people is a health intervention. But this proves my point. Okay. Because what happened was in the first few weeks, we thought that there was a guy with the machine gun kicking down our door. And then we realized it's actually not as bad as we thought. But because we were saying, hey, this is as bad or worse than you think it's going to be. And so you could get away with, give me all the control, the authoritarian control, which we need to get into authoritarianism, but just to finish this point. So you need to give me all the control because this is really bad.
The Dissonance of COVID - School of Greatness Hosted Podcast (33:50)
And then the reality of it didn't end up being that. And so the virus didn't spread, especially when you were outside. And so, or didn't spread as fast. It should be very clear. So it didn't spread as fast when you were outside. And so all of the people who were like, oh, but this is going to be crazy. If you're right, this is going to be a super spreader event. And then it wasn't a super spreader event. And so then it was like, is this as dangerous as we think? Like I remember dude washing the grocery bags that would come into my house with sanitizer sanitizing everything, only buying things that I could, that was either prepackaged or like sanitize the outside of. I mean, less people forget how big of a question mark this was. And this is not to take anything away. COVID killed a lot of people, but it wasn't like the Spanish flu of 1918 that killed whatever 50 million people. So this, you have these moments where you think a guy with a machine gun is kicking down your door or that you're being chased by a lion, but in the end you're not. And so it created this really weird dissonance of people were going into camps, but then they still weren't forced to figure out what actually works. And so my thing is, once you start, so I really, this idea, and now I'm speaking as an entrepreneur. And so I'm just in my zone. Everything up to now is me thinking through an idea and I'm very grateful for people giving me the space to process. But now speaking as an entrepreneur, I will just tell you that to build a business, you must become a fiendish prediction engine. You have to get very good at if I do this, I will get this result. Because if I don't, I can't pay people salary. So there's just a really cut and dry thing. You're dealing with the market. The marketplace does not care about you. Like you just either give something to people that they want more than they want their money. And you can sell it at a profit or you don't. That's it. It's cut and dry. And so in that you really start to go, okay, it doesn't matter what I want to be true. Like just all that bullshit just it's gone. What is true? And you become fiendish to figure that out.
Physics of Progress (36:06)
And the people that end up doing well are people to get very accurate at going, if I do this thing, I'm going to get this result. If I do that thing, I'm going to get that result. And they get into what I call the physics of progress. I think no matter what you try and do, accomplish in your life, there is a loop. It does not change for anybody that you have to run through. And I mapped this out and I was teaching it in a business class. And I actually first started teaching it here to my own staff. And one of the guys on my team goes, oh, that's the scientific method. I was like, oh my God, it is the scientific method. And I realized, okay, when multiple disciplines come to the same conclusion from totally different angles, the odds that that thing is useful in generating a predictive engine is pretty high. And so when that prediction engine can break down because there isn't the level of threat that you thought, this is where all hell breaks loose. That makes sense. That makes sense. Well, that makes perfect sense. And let's come back slightly further because you talked about your own, how you fill the God shaped hole. And you mentioned that for you, part of that is human flourishing and avoiding human suffering. The problem is those things are subjective and they're also operating on a subjective timeline. There are things that will cause human suffering now that will cause human flourishing 10 years from now, right? The delayed gratification point. So how you define those things is also subjective, which is why a superstructure cannot reside within you. It has to be something pre political. It has to be something that other people not just agree with, but other people believe almost without questioning. That's what a superstructure is. And religion provided that very, very well for a period of time, but we are in the West certainly in a somewhat post religious age. I mean, maybe not. Maybe that actually will change over time. But the problem I think we're having is that you are right to say that you have a lot of very smart and well intentioned people from different sides not being able to agree. And I think the reason is, you know, Jonathan Hight has obviously written about this, that people with different psychological profiles and as a result, political visions, they value different things. And so if you are left leaning or sort of liberal leaning, compassion is going to be much higher on your list of priorities, whereas someone who's more pragmatic like you is going to say, well, yes, I have to, you know, you are a member of my team and I have to give you a telling off and say, no, you fucked this up, right? But we're going to work together to make sure it doesn't happen again so that you grow as a person and you're more effective. Well, for some people, that's unpleasant and suffering. But if you're interested in growing a business, you know that sometimes you have to get things to work properly and part of that means telling people things that I want to hear, right? We talked about this before we started. And I think that's probably a lot of where the disagreement is because we don't have an overarching superstructure by everybody, then you end up in a position where it's like, well, if you want to pursue your version of human flourishing and I want to pursue my version of human flourishing, they could look completely differently based on what we believe to be true about the world. Now, yes, I agree with you that you've taken a lot of time clearly and thought very carefully about what it is that works and doesn't work in the real world. Most people haven't. Most people haven't. And a lot of them operate on the basis of what makes them feel good because that's the original mechanism by which human beings exist. Right? You feel bad about something, you avoid it. You feel good about something, you pursue it. The world's got more complicated and so you have to have those loops that you talked about. But a lot of people don't operate through them. And even if they did, you still probably find that because people are different psychologically, they value different things and they define flourishing and suffering in different ways, which is why I don't think that's enough. Here's an idea.
How Businesses Work (40:15)
I would love to hear what you think about this. So the business world has taught me a lot about human nature and so I maybe take a slightly different approach to everything that's happening right now. So in a business, you absolutely need two different types. You need a dreamer visionary and you need an executor. And I've seen way too many times really smart people constant and really smart people. And one of them is a visionary and he thinks the executor is an idiot and the executor is brilliant and he thinks the visionary is an idiot. And you're sitting there watching it going, wait, how have you guys gotten this far without realizing it's the tension between the two of you that actually finds the right path? And so in business, it's often talked about as the kite in the string. So if you have a kite that has no string, it just flies off into nothing, it just crashes into a tree, falls into the ground, whatever. If you have a string without a kite, obviously it just lays on the ground. So you need the two in dynamic tension. And if the kite were angry at the string and thought the string was useless and a fool and the string that the kite was a good for nothing, then it's just mayhem. And that's what I feel like is happening politically and dude, I'm not a political person. I never thought I would ever have a conversation like this or I would ever need to think to these problems. And then I started realizing, oh, this is like the left and right debate. Again, my on my tombstone, I wanted to read, you're having a biological experience. And what I want people to understand is evolution has just molded the life out of you. And you are a product of a lot of evolution. And evolution is 100% trying to make sure that you have kids that survive long enough to have kids. Okay.
The Freeloader Problem (42:02)
When you've got a lot of lions chasing you, you need a strong group. So there is going to be this nature is going to make sure that there's cohesion in a group, but what makes for cohesion strong individuals? Okay, cool. So we're going to have a collectivist versus individual tension. And because if you don't, you get what's called the freeloader problem. So if everybody is like, no man left behind, like we've got to take care of everybody. From an evolutionary standpoint, you just created a game theoretic gap and somebody's going to go, Oh, word, nobody left behind. I'll be chilling here. Go give me some food, bring it back. Group says you have to take care of me all as well. And so if you have that, then everybody, everybody becomes the freeloader and then you die off. So you have to have this countervailing force that's like, no way, like I, I will take care of you, but I need to know that you're going to take care of me to the next time. And so now you've got the tension between the two. You've got somebody who's like saying, Hey, you're accountable for everything. Your life is your choice. Nobody's coming to save you. Better get out there and hunt. Then you've got somebody else. It's like, yo, you can't be like that. You have more than you can eat. Come on, share with the group. And so when you get the dynamic tension between those two, you have a functioning society. But when you have each side going, you're an idiot. You don't belong here. My way is the only way. It devolves into madness. And so I will point people back to being an entrepreneur, which I did not plan to quote on this so much. Ray Dallio, guy mentioned earlier, builds the largest hedge fund in the world. Billions and billions of dollars. This guy's crazy. His success is ridiculous. And it's all on the back of this horrendous failure. And so he's probably mid thirties. He's the wonder kind, like he's just the guy and he's killing it and he lays out this whole strategy and he tells the world, like, this is what's going to happen. He puts all in on it. Chip start going his way. He looks like a genius and then installs and it doesn't go his way and he loses everything, man. He goes from being ultra wealthy to having to borrow money to pay rent and put groceries on his kids table. I mean, just the most catastrophic fall you can imagine.
Ray Dalio (44:07)
And so he's like, okay, I'm going to start all over again and I'm going to reboot everything. But I'm going to have one guiding force and that is the recognition of the fallibility of my thinking. And I'm no longer going to see myself as super smart. I'm going to see myself as somebody who absolutely must cultivate in others the willingness to tell me when I'm wrong and why I'm wrong. And so this got me obsessed with free speech. So I think that we are all, no matter how smart you are, literally, no matter how smart, you're going to be blind to something. 100%. And if you don't live in a world where people can tell you or encourage that you invite them to tell you where you're wrong, you will implode at some point. Do you know what I do with my guys at Trigonometry? I'm always starting arguments. I'm always like, so what do you think about this? No, but I can see you don't quite agree with me. And I do this all the time. And this is the beauty of what, you know, we have me, Francis and I produce rent on the core team and a bunch of other people. And that's what I've always tried to do because while it's very tempting to think I'm a very smart person, I also recognize the different perspectives and people, you know, you said the biological experience. I mean, the biological experience can drive you into all sorts of cul-de-sacs, both intellectually and emotionally, right? So that is, I couldn't agree with you more, man. It's so important that we are able to challenge ourselves and be challenged by others. To me, I don't actually know a lot about leadership because it's a new thing to me, having our team. But it's something I've thought often about, which is I think, you know, that's such a difficult balance to strike between being a strong, confident, assertive leader who has vision and takes the team forward, but also someone who can not only just hear feedback, but actually encourage it so that it's given in the first place. That's kind of what I've always tried to work on since, you know, I remember when we were about to hire our first staff member, I was dreading it. Because I knew I wasn't prepared, but there's only one way to prepare, which is to do it, right? So, yeah, and free speech is brought in an hour as you have.
Freedom Of Speech & Its Implications
That Is Why the Western World Has Made So Many Scientific Progress (46:30)
I think that's right. And that is why, you know, the scientific progress we talked about earlier is a product of that because it's the ability to challenge ideas. How much would you give up for free speech? How far would you let people go? Well, it depends what you mean because I, for example, you know, in certain countries in Europe, it is illegal to deny the Holocaust, right? In In constant inland. In constant land. Is that, is that okay? Denying the Holocaust. Yeah. It is to me. Yeah. And you know, I have family who, who died in that war and who were Jewish. I don't personally want to, but we've got ourselves into a bit of a confusion as a society because people confuse, you know, you won't have a Holocaust denier on your podcast. That means you don't believe in free speech. That's slightly different conversation. Agreed. But I do think people should be allowed. Look, this isn't a popular view, particularly as someone who has experienced racism. I don't think it should be illegal to be racist, right? To say racist things should be illegal to discriminate against people because of their race and employment and education and wherever. But people should be allowed to have and express pretty much any opinion in my view. I recognize that's not how other people think. Do you think that's a, like if the scales had to tip one way or the other, do we lean more towards people believing in free speech now in the West or away from it? Well, I think the scales is the wrong metaphor because I think there's some people who very strongly feel free speech is important. And there are also some people who feel very strongly that feelings and, you know, protecting people from hearing things they don't like is very important. So I don't know what the balance of that is because I think those camps are almost separate. They're not even on the same scale to some extent, right? I think if you were to poll the ordinary person, it depends country by country. I mean, in the UK, we have laws against, we have law. It's illegal in the UK to be grossly offensive. That freaks me out. It freaks me out. When did that happen? I believe it was brought in under the Blair government. I don't quote me on this. I could be wrong, but that's fairly recent, right? Yeah. So between '97 and 2010, they would have come in at that point, maybe even before, but it was never really robustly enforced if it had been in place. So don't quote me on it, but it's a relatively new occurrence. Right. It's not from the 1800s. I don't believe so. And if it is, I don't recall, you know, when I was growing up in the UK, I don't remember hearing about people being, you know, prosecuted or arrested or even having the police visit them for things that they said. And now it happens. And it freaks me out. You're right. And it should.
Russia Can Go to Hell What Free Harmful Speech Does When It Is the Majority (49:25)
It should freak us out. Yeah. Where do you think that, where does the denial of free speech go? Well, you chartered it perfectly yourself. If we cannot challenge bad ideas, bad ideas thrive. That disconnect between reality and ideas gets wider and wider. And then you and I have both, I think, explained where that leads, leads to, you know, the clash with reality. I mean, you can believe that gravity is not real as long as you want, but when you jump out of a window, you're going to find out. Talk to me about Russia because I think there's another element to this where I watched the movie, Chernobyl. And it really freaked me out. Like how being watched all the time, knowing that there are certain things that you can say and can't say like what it does to the psyche and how it can lead to a nuclear disaster because you're not able to speak up. You're not able to just plain and say, Hey, asshole, like I can't do that because it's going to fucking melt down. You were born in Russia. What does it do? Like to the vibe, I'm not sure what the right word is to use, but like what does it do to this society when people aren't able to just be open and honest because there's really like fear of punishment? Well, a lot of people, it's obviously not comparable, but a lot of people know what that feels like now because a lot of people worry about expressing their actual opinions in public. It was funny because I was just in New York, we've just done a couple of weeks of a trip around the US. And I got invited to this thing that's run by a friend of mine called Thought Criminals. And it's a small group of people who get together and talk about things that they believe that they can't talk about in public or in their work and whatever. And they asked us Francis and I to speak a little bit. And I said to them, I've been in this room before because even in the 1980s, I remember as a little kid running around in my grandfather's kitchen and there would be physicists and biologists and musicians and artists sitting around in a small kitchen talking about the very things that they could not discuss elsewhere. That's a lot of trust, man. Yeah. And it didn't always work out. So in my grandfather's case, in one of gatherings of this kind, he criticized the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and within very short order, he was fired from his job. His wife was fired from her job and both their children, my father and my aunt, were kicked out of university. He had the KGB searches house. They found a radio receiver that he used to listen to BBC World Service and Voice of America. And you couldn't. You were not allowed to. This was a terrible crime. And so eventually that's actually in part why I ended up in England because he couldn't remain in the Soviet Union. And as it was sort of tapering out at the end, he left and went to the UK. And then when my parents had a bit of money, they sent me to boarding school to England to be there. But my point is it creates, and to this day, we don't actually know what people in Russia think about the war, for example. We don't. Because what polling says isn't necessarily reflective because Russians learn and other people in the Soviet Union learn over a long period of time that you have a public reality, you have a work reality, and then you have the kitchen table reality. And some of these can be in complete contradiction to each other. And it creates a culture of fear in which, as you say, people are afraid to speak up. People are afraid to take initiative. That's the worst thing. Imagine a business where people don't take initiative because they're afraid. If you have a bunch of people working for you, how bad would the product that you produce be if none of them ever felt able to say, actually, why don't we do it like this? Let's try that. You see what I'm saying? If everybody was constantly worried about protecting their job and therefore didn't innovate, didn't do anything different, didn't try things, didn't challenge authority, didn't challenge the people above them. It's a very stifling atmosphere. And it's extraordinary to me how successful the Soviet Union was in competing with the world superpower in spite of that system. It shows you the incredible talents and intellect of the people of the former Soviet Union who really punched above their way, in my opinion, given the terrible structures that they were operating in. Yes.
Importance of Free Speech (54:07)
This is the thing that scares me, and this is why I think what we're calling it. This will be interesting. I'll try to dissect my own argument here. This is the thing that I find terrifying is that even in a country like that, that has what I would call very bad ideas, they are able to be successful to a certain point. And so somebody that's going to attack me, if I were going to steal man their argument, I would say, look at China, look at what they've done, look at Russia, look at what they did. I mean, they, for a long time, they were the other superpower. Yes, they've had sort of a blip and for a while they struggled, but it's like, you know, they're kind of coming back. Like, depending on how you look at what Putin is doing, he's, God, this is not me saying this one would be very clear. But like reunifying, you know, the country or however it's thought of. And so as somebody who has read the Gulag archipelago, who's read Mal, the unknown story, who's read the red famine, gee, zus, it really is, it's really distressing depending on what it is that you value because this stuff will go on for a long time. Like a lot of people died in the red famine, but the country didn't go away. Like they still, like they managed to like, you know, figure some things out and keep going. And even when the Soviet Union fell, it's not like Russia fell into the sea, like they, you know, they build back in countries fragment, but they start doing their own thing. And so it really comes down to what vibe do you get when you think about, and I'll just make this about work, as you were talking, I was like, Oh man, that's actually a really good analogy. The way that I view what happens when you lose free speech is what most people experience every day at work where, Oh, think about how much like you think your boss is an idiot, but you're like, I can't say anything because if I do, then I'm going to get fired or whatever. That's what it would be like. And so I don't know why people are racing towards it when they're busy hating their job and they think, you know, they work for a moron, but they can't say anything and they complain about it and they want out and they want to do their own thing. But yet there's like this cultural movement that will yield the same result. So in at impact theory, dude, you can't imagine how many times my own team I've given the speech, nobody here is above criticism, least of all me. I am not smart enough to take us where we want to go. I need people to tell me when I'm going awry. I need people like you are literally being hired for two things. Are you willing and able to make decisions and stand by them? And can you speak to power? Because if you can't speak to power and you're not willing to tell me what you really think, we're going to crash and burn. Have you heard about South Korean Airlines and how they used to have the worst safety record in the entire industry? Okay, this is crazy. This to me is what happens when free speech goes away. So they have a cultural thing there where you respect your elders. So if the captain outranks you and you're in the plane and you're the copilot and something is going wrong, you can make suggestions, but you can't like snap them out of it. And so they have these black box recordings do this eerie. They did this whole documentary of black box reenactments of these famous plane crashes. And there were a couple in there from South Korea and it goes like this. Excuse me, pilot, do you think we're getting a little close to that mountain? No, no, no, everything's fine. Excuse me, sir, could it be possible that if we were to pull up that we would be in a better situation? I told you to maintain your course. They are careening towards a fucking mountain, man. They eventually crash into that mountain. And at no point does the copilot go, hey, motherfucker, we're going to run into the mountain and we need to pull up with the fuck are you doing? And that to me is when you lack free speech, you get Chernobyl, watch it if you haven't, you get South Korean airlines. They finally had to do this whole like cockpit protocol where in the cockpit, you could absolutely, it did not matter. It was gone. Whatever deference you're showing somebody, the second you clock in that goes away, you've got to say exactly what you think is true. You've got to be assertive. You've got to be willing to call it. And I was just like, wow, like they're real consequences when people aren't for whatever reason compelled to say what they think is true.
Crimson Tide (58:30)
And the most beautiful illustration of that is the movie Crimson Tide. Have you ever seen it? I have, but a long time ago. Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman, I think. Yes. And that's the whole plot of the movie. It's the captain of the boat and his exo. And there's a decision to be made. And the exo is doing everything he can to prevent a bad decision from being made by the captain who's chosen a particular path to pursue on the entire movie is about that fact. And at the end, the way that that whole thing is shown as being the true value of not just free speech, but honor in that whole system is what happens is they end up not launching nuclear weapons at my boys as it was a Cold War movie. And it turns out to be the right decision. However, there is a mutiny aboard a nuclear submarine, which is pretty big fucking deal. So there is some kind of investigation and the captain is questioned about what happened, but his exo is not in this courtroom, the military court, Marshall, or whatever it is. And they bring in Denzel Washington, who's there, so and they say, you know, we've made a decision, something like this. And he goes, what, without my testimony? And they say, you know, Captain Ramsey, who's the captain of the boat, I've known him for 30 years. We don't need to mistrust him. And the point is that at the end of that whole process, the captain who fought so hard to have his decision implemented knows he fucked up and he's willing to admit it. That's the whole point of the movie. And the end's by, I think the final shot of the thing is since then they've changed the protocol on the submarines so that you can't, you need, I think, you know, they've changed the whole thing basically, right? So you no longer have that conflict, which is exactly what you're talking about, right? This situation, someone speaks up that speeches eventually hurt people, killing more to what it's important over what is in their own personal interest, right? Because there's a bigger thing at stake and lessons learned. That's like the whole thing in a movie. That's why free speech is important because it prevents you from making mistakes in the future. You've said that every generation has to fight for free speech again.
Why do we have to fight for free speech (01:01:05)
Why? What is this? So this is my bias. There's some biological thing that makes people want to shut down free speech for whatever reason. And then there's some biological reason why people want it on the other side. Now, I think we've made a pretty, we've laid out why it can be wildly problematic to not have free speech. But what's the poll on the other side? Why does every generation have to fight this over and over? Well, free speech is kind of unpleasant, isn't it? It can be, man. So, no, it is. It is. I mean, when we think about it. In what way? Because people say things that make you go, oh, yeah, that was kind of stupid to me. Or they just say things that you don't like or they express opinions you don't agree with, right? For example, I feel very strongly about what's happening in Ukraine. Yep. So, for me, hearing people saying horrible shit about Ukrainians who are fighting for their lives and calling them Nazis and lying about that whole situation, it upsets me. Or it could do if I let it. And at some points, I let it. It's a fact. What if I could just press a button and then none of these people ever say any of that? Wouldn't my life be so much more improved? Definitely not. But that could be because I'm already so far down the path. Yeah. You understand that my life would not be improved. But a lot of people don't understand that because it's reaction, stimulus reaction. That's all it is. Oh, I feel bad. Okay. Shut it down. That's how a lot of people feel about life in general because most people, as you well know, don't go through life not feeling in control. And so when a thing happens that you don't want to experience, that's what happens. That's what it's, it's quite a natural instinct. And so in many ways, I would argue free speech is very unnatural. It's a very unnatural thing. And that's why it has to be fought for repeatedly because people, it's always tempting to go to the, shut it down. I don't like to. I don't want to hear this. And also, you know, if your ego is invested, this is the hardest thing for people who do what you do, do what I do, you know, whether you run a small YouTube channel or massive business. Everyone has an element of ego that takes ages to get rid of, you know, to process and to, to, and so it's a, it's a challenge to your ego to have people challenge the things that you are saying or believing or thinking. And it's only when you transcend that and you go, this is about something bigger than me. This is what you said about the speech you give your team, right? You said, if we're going to get to where we want to go, then you have to be able to challenge me. All we are trying to do is get to where I want to go. Maybe I don't need to hear your crappy opinion about how I'm doing it. And well, maybe I just need you to suck up to me so that we carry on doing stuff that makes me feel good. An owner will never do that. Yeah. A successful owner will never do that because they know that at the end of the day, the rubber meets road, if you get a company, I guess that's like finally hit escape velocity and it's just making enough money, then you can start being stupid. This is why the average company now stays in the S&P 500, I think for 12 years. It used to be 61. If you made it to the S&P 500 baby, gravy train, 61 years now 12 bananas. So anyway, there's just a desk spiral that happens when you want people to suck up. It's really interesting. So I came to being a CEO through a very weird way. I started as a copywriter, worked my way to partner in one company and then tried to quit that company. And so they made me an equal partner in the next company. Long story, my audience has heard me tell the story a thousand times. And so that, I was like, I clawed my way to the top in a very emotionally difficult environment that was the intellectual equivalent of Thunderdome. Like we actually used to say that. This is not me making it up. It was like two men enter, one man leaves. We used to talk about it all the time. And so it really was meant in some ways to be that difficult. And so as I looked at it and was like, how much of this works, how much of it doesn't, there were some ideas that were brilliant like challenge me. Other ideas that were less likely to make it with me when I was on my own. Like what? Like I realized very quickly that I need to give my power away. So my job in getting to the CEO position is not to flex and show everybody how powerful I am. My job at getting to CEO was to empower everybody else so that it could scale. And that is very difficult to do to claw your way to that role and then be like, hey, actually, for me to get where I want to go, I have to in some ways, in some ways, it actually be really interesting. It would take us hours to really explain what running a business is. But in many ways, you're submitting yourself to your employees. And you're saying, one, I actually don't refer to my employees as my employees, just psychologically, I don't, it's not the right move. So we refer to each other as teammates. Yeah, that's what I call my team. The psychological thing that does, I think is very important. We also give equity to our team. So it's like, hey, you actually really own a piece of this company. So now it's like, we're pulling for the same thing. We're teammates. And as a family, I'm holding you to a standard. I absolutely expect you to perform well. I consider myself to need to be as good as a human could be at my position. So I know what my position is. I'm not, I'm not interested in being micromanager, but I have to like, hey, how are things going for you? I want to make sure that you have the way that I refer to myself as I'm the soil. You guys are the things that are going to grow. And so my job is to create the soil here, that freedom of speech, challenge authority, all of that stuff is incredibly important to create that kind of vibe so that you can ultimately get the things you want to go. But as that one to create, that is very difficult because I think, and this is the next thing I want to talk about, that there is part of the reason I think that people have to fight for free speech every generation is that there is innate in humans, partly because of ego, partly because of fear, partly because of insecurity, partly because it's awesome, is a drive for totalitarian style control. And I've often thought it's really good that I'm not smart enough to lead this company in a dictatorial fashion.
Being a dictator feels awesome? Maybe... (01:07:53)
Because if I were right, like say 85% of the time, I could probably get away with it. But the reality is that I'm not. And so I never worked with Steve Jobs, so maybe I'm wrong, this is just mythology, but I have a feeling he was just smart enough that he could just slap people around, be absolutely horrible, tell them what to do, and it still worked. They built an amazing company. And so very few people were like, he's a lot of fun to work for. So I can't do that. I can't deploy that methodology because if I'm a dicto, I'm going to be wrong way too frequently and I'm just going to hemorrhage human capital. Anyway, I think that's a big part of the pool is that being a dictator feels awesome. Tell us, though, does it? See, people say that, but look, I've never been inside another human being skin, obviously, but it's insecurity provoking. Is that where you're going? No, why it doesn't feel good. Why not? Because you're making other people feel bad. Do you think they see that? Yes. Because some of them, when I heard stories about Saddam Hussein's son, yikes. Yeah. So I suppose there are some psychopaths and they probably accumulated the top of Fortune 500 companies. It's weird to me. I've never been because I fear in myself the instinct to authoritarianism. But when I actually started managing our team, I quickly realized that I actually didn't need to fear that at all because I'm actually the opposite. I have to force myself to say things that might not be pleasant for them, but that need to be something I have to overcome all the time. I do not enjoy making other people feel bad one bit and dictatorial. I won't say that's the only part of being a dictator, though. It's not. As a company, I like knowing I'm the one person that can't be fired. They can all quit. I think people working at a company underestimate how brutal that is, but they can't fire me. That feels nice. Yeah. Does that make you a dictator, though? There's an element of that. I have the "totalitarian control" over my company. People are going to do what I say, and it forces you into a George Washington position, where it's like, "I could keep this power, but I actually am going to give it away." In the way that he gave it away because he felt it was the right thing for the country, and it's probably good that he was as old as he was because he was just like, "Jesus Christ, this is a pain in the ass." I would really like to retire to my farm now. There is something about that feeling of like, "As long as the company is making money and I can't be fired, this is why I don't take money. I don't take outside money because then you can be fired. The board can fire you, and I would hate that." Anyway, I get your point. It's a mixed bag. I suppose the fact is that, as we talked about, people have different psychological profiles. There are some people who are psychopathic. We're talking about authoritarianism, though. Why we always have to fight every generation for free speech? Which is not natural. That's why. It's not a natural state of being, I think. I don't think that in the ancestral environment, in the tribe of 150 people, there was a huge amount of free speech. Do you know what I mean? I think it's a quite artificial idea in some ways. That's why it hasn't been around for very long, in historical terms. The idea that freedom of expression matters is a few hundred years old at best, actually. I've never really been properly implemented anyway, even in those times. The reason we keep banging on about free speech, we should acknowledge this as well, is the technological environment is very different. A word said in private 200 years ago really probably didn't have a huge amount of impact on how people thought and felt and whatever. You say something on Twitter now, it could be seen by hundreds of millions of people and have far-reaching implications. Even though language hasn't changed that much, the impact of language has. I can see why I don't believe there's ever going to be a free internet again. There was a gold rush moment of the internet. Do you remember it? When you say free, you mean uncensored? Yeah. That's not going to happen again. The technology is too powerful. Nobody would allow that. What do you think about what Elon is doing with Twitter? What specifically? Yeah, that's interesting. The way that I see it is him taking over this thing, making it open source so people are not open source, but transparent so everybody can see what the algorithm is and there's no mystery about who's getting blocked or why. That part of it I like. I think I've never met Elon. I actually did Bill Marsha with him today, but we didn't get a chance to talk. I don't know what he's like. I've never met him and I'm just saying this is an outside observer and I actually think he's a very important figure in the culture and what he's attempting to do in terms of the survival of humanity actually. Really important. I disagree with him about certain things. But you have to be honest and recognize that Twitter is a benevolent dictatorship, which is much better than the oligarchy we had before. It is better.
Social Media Influence & Personal Fulfillment
Twitter, Substack, & open source (01:13:52)
I see that there is any dictatorship is benevolent as long as a benevolent. For example, Twitter I think is in a bit of a standoff with sub-stack at the moment, which if someone who writes on sub-stack I find it a little bit frustrating. What's the standoff? The standoff is that sub-stack came up with a thing called sub-stack notes, which I think the people at Twitter believe is an attempt to compete with Twitter, which I don't think it is given that sub-stack I think have like 35 million subscriptions versus whatever Twitter has. They're not comparable. There's been some things that happened on that front that make me think that I really wish this dictatorship remained benevolent for as long as possible. Is he throttling sub-stack people or something? If you're trying to link out to it? I don't have access to the actual data to be able to say accurately. There was a period of time, which was quite short, when if you posted a sub-stack link on Twitter, if you clicked it, it would take you to a page saying this link is unsafe. If you tweeted a link to sub-stack, you couldn't like or retweet it. You could only quote Twitter. It was direct suppression on this. This happened for a very short period of time. Then we are in a position where we are now where some people say suppression is going on quietly and some people say it's not. If you make the code available, people real fast point out whether that's really happening or not. That's interesting. Free internet was a moment going away. It becomes a very interesting question. Getting back to do we want freedom of speech, how far in Kissenland, we're going to go, what we're going to- I'm so grateful I'm not Elon. I cannot tell you. The pressure or what? That decision, that specific one decision is like where's that line? Nobody knows. Nobody knows. Because once you go from anyone's allowed to express an opinion, which I genuinely believe, like you and I sitting here without the cameras on, if you want to be racist, I may not stick around, but I believe you have a right to say that. What about when that is recorded on camera and it goes out to millions of people? What if I say as David Eich, this conspiracy guy in the UK said at the beginning of the pandemic that COVID is caused by 5G and then the next day people go out and burn down 5G masks? I was abhorred. I found the decision to- that's probably not even a word. I found the decision to ban Trump from Twitter abhorrent. But I can also, if I'm being intellectually honest, I opposed it completely and I just said it at the time. I can find it in my mind, the situation in which a leader of a democratic country, in my opinion, should be banned from the public square.
Banning Influencers & Free Speech (01:16:58)
Really? Give me an example. Well, it's obvious if they're inciting large-scale mass violence, for example, they're saying, you know, what we need to do is go out and shoot these people, right? Now- I don't think Putin tweets, but would you be good if he did? Because there is a guy, oh, God, I follow him. I forget his name on the Russian side because I was like, oh my God, like he's tweeting what he really thinks about the West. Yes. He drinks a lot. And I was like, whoa, like this guy's just not pulling any punches. Like these idiots and all this. I was like, wow, like, okay. This is why I'm saying I'm grateful not to be in the position where I have to make these decisions because I think at the end of the day- Because there's no right answer. There's no right answer. Interesting. Now, we're all fighting over where that line is. And my argument is that line has been pushed way in against free speech. I think that's Elon's point and that's why he's taken over Twitter and that's why he's rolling that line back. But inevitably there will always be a point where you go, okay, that's far enough, I think. Yeah. Because the technology is too powerful now. The impact of words is so- is not, but can be so catastrophic. Yeah. But then again, I can see counter-argams to my own argument. I mean, think about, you know, what about the Civil War in America? A bunch of people saying, you know, we must end slavery and if people want to fight us over that, we got to go out and fight. What if that happened today? What if people went out and said, you know, we got to fight whatever? And that means we need to pick up our weapons and go to the streets. Do you interfere with that as the owner of Twitter? Man, so can I throw some really bad ideas that I, man, I'm thinking through this. I've not had to articulate this stuff to myself or to anybody else. But so here's where I come down in this. There are no solutions only trade-offs. So says Thomas Sowell. I think that is so important for people to understand that whatever solution people think they have, it is always going to create some kind of problem. And so there isn't utopia. There isn't perfection. So knowing that, I would say that there really do have to be some things that you think are worth dying for. Remember I am thinking through this right now. So I would die for my wife. I hope it never comes to that. I am inspired by people that would die for their country or whatever. I have to really think about, I am very glad that I am not at a conscriptable age at this point. That doesn't break my heart. I certainly love America. I will actively think people that fought for America, I will thank them for their service. I have a tremendous sense of gratitude for people that have died for this country and died for its ideals. It just, whoa. That really hits me at a deep emotional level. I know it has become like uncool at this point. I remember somebody told me they put an American flag up in front of their house. I was like, oh, someone is going to rip that down. And they did. And when I said, I was like, fuck, that is really heartbreaking. Anyway, so you need to have things you would die for. And that means to me, this is me, that there are some ideas that you do your best to predict the outcome of having those implemented. And you say that idea is so strong for the value system that I hold that I would be willing to die for it. I grew up in the milieu of the West in America and our constitution and the First Amendment. And so for me, like free speech, it's one of those things, man, where it's like, God, I really hope that it doesn't come to me having to die for it. And I really hope that it isn't me that the mob turns on. Like, trust me, I'm insecure about that. And I don't want to come across with like bluster of who the fuck cares? I really care. Like I see. Oh, yeah. Why do you care? Okay. Sorry. I love it. I think in fractals, I try to stop myself from doing it, but you're introducing a fractal that I love. So here's why I care. I have worked face to face with the reality that the number one predictor of your future success is your zip code. That has become an animating factor in my life because people that I loved were devoured by the bad ideas that were passed on and then by their zip code. And I've looked closely enough at the problem that I realize it is ideas. And if you look at Jeffrey Canada and what he's done with his charter schools and stuff where he takes the same kids in the same school, literally the same building, doesn't choose them based on merit. It's completely randomized based on the same kids that go to that school and they end up having like five times the graduation rates and better score. It's just fucking crazy. So I'm very confident that this is an ideas problem. Because I believe that this is an ideas problem, I have tried to come up with a solution. My solution is the company impact theory. The reason it's called impact theory is because my theory on how to impact people at scale is by getting across a growth mindset, which I really believe is all you need at scale through ideas and entertainment. This show is my way of impacting the 2% and then the video game I'm making is my way of impacting the 98%. And buried in this video game are just growth mindset ideas. I'm not trying to make vegetables taste good. I think we make a fun game, but if a mentor gives you advice in our game, it'll be real advice. So it's like, okay, that's what I'm trying to build. And I worry that I will taint my own brand because we just live in a divisive moment. And so I have often thought, do I do more good by receding into the background and nobody knows who the hell I am? Nobody has to think about what I like and believe and all that and they can just interact with my characters. Or do I step out front? Now the realities of my business, because it is so hard and so expensive to build that side of the business that I have to do this side of the business, which makes us just a metric ton of money. So we have that whole side. And so the second part of this, the reason that I'm in conflict is that I feel a moral obligation to two things, not be a coward, which I started to feel like a coward at the beginning of the pandemic. And I realized I believe things that I'm not saying out loud. So I'm effectively in the Soviet Union. And then two, I really need to do everything I can to help people that the ideas would benefit. And so I had ideas that I thought would be useful to people. I had access to people that had even better ideas than I'll ever have that could help people and by not reaching out to those people and asking those questions, it made me feel like a coward. So I was like, okay, I have to start speaking on this. And that's why. That makes sense. That makes sense. But I suppose the reason I asked is I was just wondering why someone in your position where you have a few money and a huge audience and a network of people that I imagine most of would stick by you if you expressed your very reasonable opinions, why you would be concerned about doing any of that.
Why Worry About Your Audience? (01:24:11)
Because the reality is that I am not, I am very aware that I would not do well pandering to an audience. And so if I say something that lights the world on fire, I'm still going to live in a world of nuance. And I, that will be very rough. I would at that point, you have to pick the side that doesn't hate you if you want to keep making a lot of money. And really? Yeah. You don't agree with that? I don't know. I mean, I deliberately piss parts of my audience off all the time because I don't, I don't, a lot of people come to our show because we debate controversial ideas or discuss controversial ideas. We get people from extremes coming in. And I'm quite clear about where the demarcation lines are for me because I don't want to end up in a position where it's like, I think I'm, you know, I've got a YouTube channel with Francis that's got, you know, 10 million subscribers and it actually only has like 100,000 loyal ones. You know, I'd rather know now. Do you see what I mean? Yep. So, from, but I also happen to believe that there are millions and millions and millions of people out there who like and would enjoy and truly get what we do in a way that means that they would continue to support us even if we said some things that a lot of people out there didn't like, but if they were coming from the right place. But again, is that a true belief or is that just a, is that wishful thinking? I don't know. You're in much better position to tell me. What's interesting. So I don't know if I'm in a better position to tell you on that because I haven't run this experiment, but I have had these conversations with my team who are so to your point, I there, I, every word that I say on the show, I believe, but I am far more aggressive off camera than I am on camera. I'm far more flippant and lean towards making something funny or whatever. And so my team loves that and they have been desperate like to record that side of me where it's just like, you know, completely unleashed and like we were having a, what I thought was a fucking hilarious conversation yesterday about raising AI children, which I actually think is going to be real. And my team was very much like, yeah, this would be the kind of stuff like we want to hear you go ham like this on camera. And I'm like, so take, so we, my wife and I do relationship content and off camera when I say, so I used to be a stand up comic. I don't know if you have, if you've ever heard that side of me.
The other side of me - Wannabe Standup Comic (01:27:07)
So I know you did as well. I tell very recently, I guess you've sort of pressed pause on that. Probably two or three years ago now. Okay. So you were like a for real stand up comic. I was a wannabe stand up comic in my teens and early twenties. And I would, my whole stick was I would talk about the most outlandish shit, the stuff where you're like, I can't, what the fuck? Nobody talks about that. And so that, that's like I have that national part of my personality, but I'm trying to be the next Walt Disney. I'm not trying to be the next Tony Robbins or the next Joe Rogan. I'm trying to be the next Walt Disney. And I was like going to the relationship content. People always want to ask us about sex. Now, in my real life, I am not, I'll make your eyelids crawl back. Like I have no problem talking about it. Doesn't phase me at all. But I can't escape this question. Do people want footage of Walt Disney talking about his sex life? And I'm like, I don't know that I want that. And so my, my love man, and I, I really love it. And it's silly and childish, but you'll notice I have a cartoon character on my shirt. And this is a character I thought of. And there's nothing that gets me more excited than like I've written comic books. And when somebody writes in and is like, do that comic, like it, I love this so much, it really like impacted me. You know, this idea was so cool and so entertaining. That, I almost wish it didn't. That impacts me more than the person who's like, oh my God, that episode you did or, you know, if I do solo content, they're like, oh man, I'm using that idea. I've taught it to my kids. And that's, is meaningful to me. But my just first love and passion is storytelling. And so I am very conflicted about like how ham to go on thinking through all of these ideas live on camera, but I find myself just inching and inching and inching that way. So anyway, to, to the initial point, the initial question about, um, does this become problematic in any way to deal with these topics or bring this to the forefront? I don't know. Maybe it does. Given what I'm trying to accomplish, it is a little bit sticky. You can reboot your life, your health, even your career, anything you want. All you need is discipline. I can teach you the tactics that I learned while growing a billion dollar business that will allow you to see your goals through. Whether you want better health, stronger relationships, a more successful career, any of that is possible with the mindset and business programs and impact theory university. Join the thousands of students who have already accomplished amazing things. Tap now for a free trial and get started today. That's very interesting to me. It's an interesting conversation, which I think a lot of people who are making things in the online space who are by virtue of what they do in the public eye to some extent, have to think about. Um, it's interesting you mentioned about the cartoon character because it sounds like, to me, the reason that praise of that lands with you in a different way is that it's the most quintessentially authentic expression of your true being. It's interesting. Not quite true. Okay. So the most authentic expression of my true being will come out in multiple ways. So the thing that I love being on stage talking about mindset, mindset and business, like if you get me going on either of those dude, because this is where I'm like, I almost feel like I can't talk fast enough because I know these ideas will change anybody's life. They are timeless ideas. I'm just like this is so cheesy, but I'm just the vessel right now that happens to know how to package these ideas in a way that people will find useful. But dude, I took myself from scrounging in my couch cushions to find enough change to put gas in my car, true story, to selling a company for a billion dollars that I built with my partners from absolute fucking scratch. We did not raise money. And so I'm like, okay, the only reason I was able to do this is because of a set of ideas. I can teach this to you. I've now built three companies in a row and three totally divergent areas. All of them have been multi-million dollar companies. One of them was a billion dollar company. So it's like, oh my God, like take notes, get a pin up. So I love doing that. But the act of being on stage is not as emotionally captivating as losing myself inside of a story. And so whatever weird twist of brain fate. I am a hyper responder to stories, movies, TV shows, cartoons, video games, hyper responder. And so I would have been like in days of old, I would not have been a good warrior. I don't have the physicality for that. I would have been the storyteller for sure. I would have been the one around the campfire that built the mythology and just really one understood the deep psychological impact of story. And just I get the chills from hearing stories and telling stories. And so there's a secondary layer that I don't fully even understand in myself that makes me love the story side. That makes sense. Okay. So I want to know, I want to get back to the central idea of if you were, in fact, this is a right way to ask it, you have a child. You have a son. You want him to grow into a good world. Your Oxford speech was really reaching across to people that believe in ideology that you think will lead them somewhere that isn't helpful to them or to society. So while I understand you don't want to be on Musk and you don't want to be making some of these decisions, give me the broad strokes of what you think makes for a good society.
What makes a good society? (01:32:51)
Well, this is the point that I was going to make a lot earlier when you were talking about how you know what works. And this is one of the difficulties that we find ourselves in because the moment I start saying to you, here are the things that work, I know you can hear them, but a lot of people out there don't hear them in the way that they're intended, which is you say growth mindset, right? If you want these results, this is what you do for society, that's a much more difficult. And B, one of the problems that you end up having is you're, it necessitates the making of generalize statements about people and humanity and society. These things are generally speaking good. And we are now in a position where the moment I say that, for example, you and I before we started, we talked about most people should have children, something it was maybe first, I remember if you use the word should or is it quote? And I agree with that. But the moment you say that, particularly if you say it online, a lot of people are going to come along and give you some very legitimate examples of people and situations in which that isn't true. And one of the big challenges that we face is it's impossible to make any sort of generalized normative statement because those counter examples will immediately be used against you and usually wet in a weaponized way. So for example, one of the themes of today seems to me, I mutual, or shared love, not mutual, but shared love of Thomas Sowell. One of the key messages that he expressed and it was then communicated by other people who picked up on it, particularly from the black community, was the idea of the importance of what we used to call an intact family, parents living together under one roof for their children. People have different explanations of why that is no longer the case nearly as much as it used to be. Some people say it's a consequence of the sexual revolution. Some people will say it's a consequence of Thomas Sowell himself, I think, would say that it's a consequence of the welfare state. You can slice that 100 different ways, or maybe not 100, but a few. But if you say one of the good things that will make society better is children growing up in a two-parent household, most often with a man and a woman, which allows them to learn the stereotypes and the ways of behaving and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, well, you've immediately excluded, and this is the worst thing you can do in modern society, you have excluded a whole lot of people who also have value and dignity and so on and so forth. That is why we're in the predicament that we're in. I, as someone, you ask exactly the right question, I struggle to answer it actually, because it's very, very difficult to talk about some of these things without immediately finding yourself in a position where you're being attacked by people on what actually seemed like pretty reasonable grounds. Why are you sitting there, Konstantin, telling other people to have or not have children? Why are you sitting there, you know, demonizing single mothers? Why are you sitting there, you know, saying that this type of family unit is better than that type of family unit when we're all unique special individuals who have the right to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So it's difficult and, you know, this is- Do you think there's an answer to that question though? To which question? What you just asked, why are you doing this? Like if somebody asked me that question. Yeah. So my answer to that is, I believe that, for example, if we talk about family unit, children, I mean, it's not that I believe, there's an inescapable avalanche of evidence which shows that children growing up outside of that environment do infinitely worse on average. Now it's on average. There are single mothers or single fathers who bring up their children wonderfully. There are children who grow up in care who go on to have incredible lives or fulfilment and success. There are all sorts of counter examples. But on average, a child growing up in a stable family environment is far more likely to do better at school, to avoid going to prison and all sorts of other things, right? So that's the reason if you don't want children to suffer and if you want to have a cohesive society, that is why I would make that statement, right?
Challenging today's view on personal fulfilment (01:37:32)
It feels to me like you could append, look, I know that reality is going to slap me in the mouth because I'm about to say this and I'm going to read the comments and people are going to be like, he's a fucking moron. But I will say that seems super reasonable to me. So I'm the biology guy. So I'm like, oh, this is about first principles. This is about data. And if you just append one thing, we're going to run the experiment because you just laid out your argument and I'm just going to append one thing and we're going to see if people are like, word, these guys finally cracked it. If you are outside of that, you're a gay couple, you're a single mother, single father, whatever. You still have dignity and I'm so excited for you that you have children and you might be in a position where there are things you're going to have to take into consideration that you just have to deal with, right? So if I'm riding in a car versus driving a motorcycle, I'm going to act differently. We're both going to get me to my destination. If I'm careful, they're safe, I will get people there safely. Maybe one has like a track record. Cars are a little bit safer or maybe even a lot safer than motorcycles. But what I need to know is what are the, if I'm on the motorcycle, I want you to tell me what the risks are because I'm on the motorcycle. So now I need to act a little bit differently. Maybe there are things that I need to do, maybe even as the traditional couple, maybe there are blind spots that we have and you can help me understand what those are. I'm not saying these are morally better. I'm just saying the data shows that there are outcomes that are better. And so this is what I'm always trying to get people to understand in business. You have to know the metric of success. So hey, everybody, having kids, gay, straight, single, wherever, doesn't matter. What's the outcome that you want? You want your kids to do well economically, emotionally, all of the above, whatever. Okay, cool. Now let's just look at the data. What choices are most likely to get you there? If you can't make that choice, because you love somebody else that doesn't fit that mold or you lost your significant other, whatever, there's a million reasons where you find yourself in one of the ones that's maybe a higher risk group that doesn't make you bad, but you don't want to be blind to those risks. You, I would hope, want somebody to tell you, okay, hey, you have certain things you're going to need to address and really be thoughtful of. So for instance, this all started from before we started rolling, I said most people should have kids. I am not having kids. And so the reason that I brought it up was I know that I'm playing what I consider a high risk game. I think it's emotionally high risk because evolution has said, hey, I'm going to make having children hyper rewarding to make sure that you do it. And so so much of our circuitry is around the expectation from an evolutionary perspective that you will have a child. So if you don't, there can be a lot of loneliness, a sense of not having meaning and purpose. Nothing is living beyond you. And so, you know, I waste my life and all of those questions come with a really tidy answer if you have kids. Now, it's not to say that raising kids isn't brutally difficult. I understand that. And that's why I don't say everybody should just saying like nature has made that one maybe a little bit easier to find fulfillment than the not having. So I have to, my wife and I talk a lot about how do we protect ourselves from next? I think when we're 80 and running a business isn't cool anymore and we're not like, you know, caught up in what we're building. And maybe I just never managed to build the next Disney. And so I feel now like a failure and I never pulled it off. And you know, so now I'm really struggling. So I'm like, we need to be thoughtful about that now so that we know how to frame our life, think about our life, all of that when we're older so that this doesn't become an emotionally devastating choice we made, we need to do it with our eyes, wide open, et cetera. So that feels like the very, I would say wise argument that you've made that they're just the data shows, they're higher risk here there. If you add the caveat to this isn't a moral thing. This isn't me saying that that you're not worthy of love or whatever. But so often people want to be right, they maybe aren't a good messenger for that. I think that's certainly true. And it's a rebuke that I willingly accept. I don't always phrase things in the best way that I could sometimes. However, you're operating at a level of detachment from emotion that most people are not. And one of the problems that all people face really is that we all, or certainly most people, I think your circumstances are quite different to the average person. I think we both agree. Most people are operating at a level of unhappiness with their choices or things that they experience without maybe realizing that the consequences of the choices that makes it very difficult for them to accept data. Because if the data says you fucked up, it's quite uncomfortable and there's nothing you can do. So for example, I mentioned something about the way that women in modern society on Twitter, I don't know if you saw this, have, what I was trying to say, what I was trying to get across is essentially women don't actually have the true freedom to make a choice. Because there are... About having a kid? Yes. Tell me more.
Gender Dynamics & Influence
What constitutes a high status woman (01:43:08)
Because there are cultural settings that say some paths for women are better than others. So if you are a housewife, that is not as high status as having a high powered career. Very traumatic in my eyes, but yes. Very... It's devastating that that's become sort of this low status thing. Completely. And it isn't the fault of women by the way, although it is often other women that will react that way, but it's also the fault of men too. Like we're both sex is complicit in this. But if you are a 44 year old woman who maybe you feel... I don't know if it's objectively true necessarily, but let's say you feel subjectively that you did your best. You know, you went out and you dated guys and you did your best to work on the relationship, but they were arseholes or this happened or that happened. Or one of them got killed by a car or whatever. And here you are, you're 44 years old, you haven't had a child. And here's some dickhead on the internet telling you to have children when you're not going to have them. That level of detachment that you have, which is to go, "Well, you know, we're not having children. Here are the consequences. Here are some of the actions I can take to mitigate that." That is not that people... There's not something that a lot of people have. And that's why the conversation becomes very, very difficult. Because there's a lot of emotional attachment to what people are saying. And there are probably things that I'm like that about. You tell me this or that and I might react emotionally. I know that that is not effective. And so I work on it over time and I've certainly got a lot better. But I think a lot of people are not in that position that you're talking about where they're truly conscious of the choices that they're making and the true consequences. So that's one of the reasons it makes all of these conversations very difficult. And John Peterson is working on something called the ARC, I think. And there are other people who are talking about what is our positive vision. What's the ARC? I think I haven't looked too deeply into. I'll probably end up being involved in it in some way. But it's essentially what I've been talking about for some time, which is what is that positive vision? And the reason, I'll be honest with you, first of all, I'm not smart enough to come up with the whole thing on my own. And also I'm also kind of a little bit not brave enough to come up with the whole thing on my own because the amount of shit you're going to take for starting to articulate some of these things. Oh my God. I don't want Jordan Peterson's life. That looks really brutal. No, it's terrible. And so I don't want to be the only one saying it, which is why I think we're a group of people to be talking about it. And that's why I'm super excited, particularly on the children's stuff with people like Louise Perry and Mary Harrington. Louise Perry, I feel like I've heard that name. She wrote a book called The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, I think. Oh yes, I think Jordan interviewed her, right? Yeah. And I've been weaving to it her own trigonometry. Her and Mary Harrington are these two feminists, but of a very particular kind. Mary's book is called Feminism Against Progress. Yes. I think I listened to your interview on that. Yeah. I think you'd have a wonderful conversation with both of them. I'm two chicken.
Meaning and fulfillment. (01:46:31)
It's like, what do you want the channel to be about? Yeah. I know what you mean. Louise, particularly, Mary is very intellectual, almost to the detriment of sometimes getting her message across. She's a wonderful human being and her ideas are fascinating. But Louise, for me, I sing her praises everywhere because to me, she's like a female Jordan Peterson. And she can get away with a lot more because of that. But fundamentally, one of the things we're going to have to reckon with is we've, as a society, we, as a civilization even, we've unpicked a lot of the threads of the sweater. That used to hold the sweater together. Religion, family, children, all of these things. And we are going to have to think about what a new sweater looks like. And it has to be, I feel, I explained to you why there's good reason to be cowardly about saying a lot of these things, which is why we have to frame it in a different way that is invitational. It can't be, you must have children. That doesn't work anymore. Maybe never work. Maybe it did work a hundred years ago. Maybe it did work for most people most of the time. It has to be more like what you are talking about, which is what do you want? What do you truly, truly want? Because let's be honest, going out to parties and getting drunk and taking drugs and having casual sex isn't making you fulfilled. I'm sorry if this sounds like a conservative idea. I'm sorry. I wish I didn't have to articulate these ideas that sound conservative because then people call me conservative and then I end up in a box. But the fact of the matter is we all know that is a fact. These things do not make you fulfilled and happy in the long run. They just don't. So what is it that you want? What is it that every human being wants? You talked about it. I can't remember if it was before we started a rafters, meaning and fulfillment. How are you going to get that? Here are some things that people have done in the past to get those things, meaning and fulfillment. How do you get that? Well, for some people that's going to be meaningful work, right? But not everybody is going to have that opportunity. For some people it's going to be a family. Not everyone is going to have that opportunity. But here is a menu with a few options that we can offer you as a human, as the body of human knowledge about these things. That's what I think it has to be looked like.
Me vs You, mirror neurons, the bystander effect. (01:49:06)
It has to look like, "Look, if you don't want to sign up to this, that's fine." But deep down, everybody wants meaning and fulfillment. Here are some other ways to get that. Man, I think that is critical. Meaning and fulfillment really is the punchline. I am often trying to get people to understand. All that ultimately matters is how you feel about yourself when you're by yourself. The way that you feel good about yourself is basically following the guidelines of fulfillment, which I think there's a recipe for. It goes something like this. Again, evolution guy over here. Evolution is going to guarantee that if you do the following things, you will be fulfilled. If you won't, no matter what, don't care how rich you are. You're going to have to work really hard to gain a set of skills that allow you to serve yourself and others in a way that you find exciting. If you do that, your life will be awesome. If it comes easily to you, you won't have the things you want. If you work really hard, but only serve yourself, you won't have the things you want. Their nature is trying to make sure that you have kids that stay alive long enough to have kids that have kids. It's like, that's the drill. That is as far as I can tell. That's the formula that's going to make you feel that way. Even though working hard and all that is where you earn your own respect, earning your own respect is about having a value system. You say, these are the things that are worthy of respect and I'm going to do these. I think the only feedback loop is the pursuit of fulfillment. Anyway, if you're doing things to earn your own respect, then I think you'll feel good about yourself and your by yourself. Even if you're failing as a whole, I've got a whole stick about how to construct your mindset to be resilient, etc, etc. Beyond what we're talking about right now. Where does raising children, particularly if you're a woman fit into that? And family generally. This is where you think about what I'm trying to do is the grand scale version of what having a family is. Individual is the right level of analysis for your own life for the government to think about its constituency, all of that is to get down to the individual. The family is the smallest cluster of meaning. If nature wants to make sure that you contribute to the group, the family becomes the place where you can first express that. It's also the place where you get to be, you have a role and so you're going to be able to have autonomy. There's a lot of things, if you've read Stephen Pinker's book Drive, talks a lot about this Daniel Pink, I forget which one of them wrote this, forgive me. But there's a book called Drive. I'll tell you, I'll just tell you what I'm saying. There's a book called Drive, you're right, it's definitely not. Daniel Pink, maybe the book is Drive anyway. And in it, it talks about what really drives people. A huge driver other than meaning and purpose is autonomy. And so at the family level, there's a reason that people say I'm the king of the castle, meaning of my own home. When I come in my own home, nobody else gets to tell me what to do, etc, etc. And so the husband and the wife come together as this yin-yang duel that together is truly better than either of them are individually. If you take a long-term stance, you're going to shape each other so you're literally making each other better when it's functioning well. And then when you have kids, now you've got that. I have done the thing. I have worked hard to become a worthy wife or a worthy husband, a worthy mom, a worthy father. So worked hard, gained a set of skills, and now I'm serving the group, not just myself. So I'm doing things that matter to me. So I'm going to teach my son to be a man in a way that feels good. This is the way I believe things ought to be. And so in doing that in that small atom, now it's like you're going to get all that fulfillment that you want. Now I get it. This is probably somewhat of a modern construct, even if you give me modern in the last 20,000 years, right? But I think it's all an echo of things that work at the tribal level, things that work at the state level, all of it. As you get these, the individual has to be strong under themselves, accomplished, that's probably a dangerous word to use, but strong and accomplished in the ways they will need to be to serve the family, need to be to serve their local community, and then it just scales up from there. So we do have that drive to, we're really going to derail now, but two, we want to be recognized for our contributions, and so my wife and I do that for each other. We want to have something that lasts beyond us, kids. So anyway, again, I would like to restate, I don't have children. So it's not the path that I've chosen to walk, but when I look at from an evolutionary standpoint, I'm like, that is the safer path. So anyway, it goes back to there's no solution. There's only trade-offs. And I just want people to understand, okay, whatever path I walk, it's going to be a trade-off. So what am I trading off? That's right. And I think that's the question that, that's why I said what I said on Twitter about women not having true choice. I didn't quite phrase it that way, but that's what I meant, which is a lot of people are being culturally manipulated into making decisions that are not in their long-term benefit or interest or happiness. They're just not. They're just not. And they're being encouraged to see the pursuit of meaningless things as far superior to the things that will actually give them meaning and fulfillment on average. Doesn't mean there aren't exceptions, right? But on average. So that, I think is, and those things, you know, find a partner who loves you that you love that you grow together with. Have children, if that's what you want to do. Speak meaningful work and, you know, to me, I'm speaking just from personal experience, personal growth and experience, experiencing myself develop is probably one of the highest values that I hold for myself. Guaranteed. Skill acquisition, you know, I always talk to my guys about this. It's like, you don't really want to learn how to do a job necessarily. You want to acquire a set of skills and build a set of skills that can be used to do many different jobs. And you package them together. This is why, you know, like, you, you, you tried your hand to stand up and I did stand up for probably four or five years. I never got to the point, you know, it takes about 10 years to become a great stand up. I never got to the point where I was great. I was doing well. I was pretty good. But what happened was I found something that combined my skills in a better way, which is thinking and talking and joking. And you put that in a package and then you've got something that's much more interesting than just, for me at least, as a stand up comedian. I never found that as fulfilling as what I do now. So meaningful work, learn, grow, et cetera.
Men & women are different (to a hilarious result) (01:56:04)
And then I think, you know, another layer to add on top of this, and this is actually something that I am aware of thanks to my wife, men and women are incredibly different, incredibly different. And so you have- You can't imagine how surprised I was to find that. I'm controversial. I was like, what? Of all the things. I was like, wait, wait, wait, wait, what? I don't know what to say about that, man. I mean, it's so silly that we even have to have this conversation. But men and women are incredibly different. And one of the most beneficial things to my wife and I's relationship has been the fact that we've read books about how exactly different we are. I mean, John Gray, who I think lives somewhere around here, who's been writing about this for decades now. I don't know if I subscribe to every tenon of his ideology or whatever, but his books work. And some of the things that I've learned from that meant that we have a much more fulfilled and happy relationship, but also we're much more fulfilled and happy as individuals. So that- It's that know thyself thing, I think. And part of the problem with what I see is we're deliberately brainwashing people not to realize that they are, to a large extent, what they are. That part of who you are is driven by your biology. And if you can understand how best to manage that, particularly in partnership with someone of the opposite sex, if you are heterosexual, you're going to be like a rocket that's taking off because you've got all of those things. You know your trigger points, you know the things that don't work for you, you know what works for you. Just like, you know, I don't know if you're familiar with John Gray's work, but like the idea of the cave for a man. Basically it's the idea that every now and again, a man will pull back in a relationship and will feel like you'll go and work trying to repair his motorcycle or play computer games or read a book. And you'll close the door to the office and not be available. And women tend to find that very scary because they're like, whoa, what the hell's going on? But the guy is just doing his recharge so that he can come back and be full of love again. Like that was revolutionary because what women will do if they don't know that is chase after you into the cave, which means you only run away further and right, it's just dynamic. And John Gray wrote about this in Menor from Mars, Womenor from Venus like 40 years ago. And now we've got all these crazy people running around saying, well, there's no difference between men and women. I mean, it's insane. The one that helped me the most, it's like one of those catchy phrases and I'm like, oh my God, this is so true, is women need to feel loved to have sex and men need to have sex to feel loved. That's right. When I heard that, I was like, oh my God, like it was, it was like such an epiphany where, oh, now I get why she acts the way that she does. And now I actually understand myself better because I never really thought about it. But I was like, yeah, if we're not having sex, I feel disconnected. Yes. Whereas for her, if she feels disconnected, she's showing one of sex. So now you can get into this really weird dynamic where it's like, she wants, you know, all this talk and like connection. And I'm like, man, like I'm not into that unless we're having sex. Like what are we even talking about here? And here again, we come back to the problems with the society that we're living. If you've got that issue going on, whichever couple has had, the solution is difficult to articulate out loud because it's very controversial potentially. I mean, John Gray's solution, I don't want to misrepresent it, but it's kind of like sometimes you need to have sex even though you're not entirely. Just you want. Oh, I'm waiting for you to say it. Oh, I'm just like, just you know what I mean? I do. I am not advocating that anyone has sex that the fuck I don't want to do this. Yeah. You know what I mean? I know exactly what you're saying. So in order for men and women to be healthy together, it requires us to be able to say some things that we don't want to say in public. Yeah. And that's a bad place to be that we feel hesitant to say them in public, right? That's a bad place to be if we want men and women to be healthier. And that's another of the things that really bugs me about the situation that we're in is like the idea that men and women are engaged in some sort of battle of the sexes is the craziest idea I've ever fucking heard. These two groups of people who have spent the entirety of human evolution having to work together to survive and to thrive. They are they're what they're against each other.
The triangle of evil (02:00:31)
Are you crazy? Are you insane? And the very notion that we spend almost no time talking about how the sexes can and should live together and coexist and grow together and so on. And we spend all our time talking about who gets paid more and all of this stuff. I'm not saying those things aren't necessarily important and I'm against discrimination of any kind, obviously. But the focus of our attention to me is on that issue completely in the wrong place. Yeah, it's interesting. All of this stuff going back to that idea there, there is a reason that these arguments endure and the reason is that there's truth on both sides. So I read a lot about history. This is something that came to me pretty recently like the last five or six years and you read historical stuff and you realize men and women were working together to survive. It was very harsh, but also like people weren't really trying to understand each other as deeply as we might care about that now. And so there very much was like you went off to war and you did your thing and you really may do some raping and pillaging and then you come back, but it's like you're still my husband. And so all of the stuff of we would never have survived without helping each other and oh by the way people really did rape and pillage. It's like both of those things are true and history is messy. And one thing I want to talk about today, but maybe not yet is what I call the triangle of evil. Things are complicated, like really complicated. And if we, I like the idea that there are certain mind viruses that as a society make us on the long arc of history bend towards justice. I love that. Like that's amazing. But any one lifetime can have its like horrible things happen in that society, things that we would never be okay with today. I mean, just like really grueling. But at the same time you can go back to any time in history and there would be love and you'd be, even if you were an arranged marriage that you would find this mutual respect and you'd raise kids that you love and you die for each other. I mean, it's just like humans are messy and complicated and beautiful and wonderful.
Women have influenced us (02:02:44)
And it's really, really interesting, but you have to be willing to get into the nuance. And so when I think about, you know, living in a modern time, I've been with my wife for 22 years. And in no uncertain terms, I am a better person because of her. I don't know who I would be without her. There was a time before she stepped out front. So she was a housewife and just really supporting me. But I was starting to take off as an entrepreneur, starting to get recognized, how to show like all of that. And I burst into tears one day and I'm not a crier man. So for people like that really, really know me, they know that this is like weird. I burst into tears one day privately just with my wife and I was like, you will never get credit for the fact of who I've become because you have influenced me. And even even having that conversation, like I love talking about there's a reason the cliche of behind every powerful man is a powerful woman because women for eons, not necessarily true now with the pill and the sexual revolution and all that in there in the workforce, but for millennia, they had to work through men. And so they got very good at, I want a thing and I'm going to get you to also want that thing. Are you saying women are manipulation? Oh, brother, I'm saying if we can use a word that is less radioactive, but a hundred percent. So in the movie, no, I love it. It's just true. It's true. I like this idea of being a predictive engine. If the more you can predict the outcome of your behaviors, the closer you're getting to ground true. And so from an evolutionary perspective, and look, this has changed now and it's awesome. Like I want women to work. My wife is a boss bitch and is an entrepreneur in her own right and is unbelievable. But my wife will be the first to tell you, oh yeah, for the first decade of our marriage, she wasn't expressing herself in business. She was expressing herself through me in business. And it worked and she knew how to get what she wanted. And it was women from an evolutionary perspective, they needed to be optimized to tend to young. And so they have effectively superpowers for raising kids. Doesn't mean they need to raise kids. You can allocate those superpowers however you want. But that nature was just like, hey, I need you to be very good at raising children. Those 15% of women have a fourth photo receptor that actually lets them see colors that guys can't even see, which hypothesis goes would help them see changes in color in their skin, their kids skin tones that they'd be able to read sickness, mood, whatever. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. Their breasts can produce milk. I mean, just all kinds of things. Their hips for childbirth on and on and on. And so understanding that for millennia, women were, I mean, we are a set of women. It's actually a dimorphic species, not massively. We're not like gorillas where they're eight times bigger than the female. But there is sexual dimorphism. Men have stronger upper bodies, et cetera, et cetera. So the workloads would tend to get broken up in a certain way. And so if you're not going to be the half of the species that's going to confront something head on, like for a woman, and unfortunately, I've seen these YouTube videos where when you see a guy snap and get, throw a punch on a woman and you recognize the difference and ability to generate force, it's distressing. And you realize at the ends of the spectrum, because there's a ton of overlaps, of course, there's a lot of women that could beat up a lot of men. But as you get to the ends of the distribution, the strongest man is going to be able to beat up every single woman on the planet, period, bar none, and a story. And so it would not be a good evolutionary strategy for women to do the confrontation head on. So they get far more ingenious. They just have a sophisticated set of tools that happen to be psychological in nature. That was a lot of words to get around the word manipulation, but you get the idea. So I was rocked to tears to be like, whoa, you've shaped me into a person that you will never get credit for. Thankfully now with everything that's happened, I think she does get a lot of credit and she's able to tell her own story and all of that. But it was really a breathtaking moment for me to realize, whoa. Like you have shaped me. I have shaped you. We are a partnership. We bring equal value, but in different ways. And the more we've come to understand the different things that we're good at, and each of us are good at different things, but together we really do bring equal weight, but they're not the same thing. Like we're not competing on the same things.
Relationship Dynamics & Power Structures
How to inspire growth in each other (02:07:33)
You know what's so interesting to me that you told that story because my wife and I are exactly the same. I've been together 20 years. I know you guys have been together so long. Yeah. I've been together that long and it was exactly the same story. My wife was always working from the beginning, but she was also working on me from the beginning and pretty damn hard actually. And I actually forgot to give you a copy of my book. I'll give you one afterwards. Oh, I have read it. I know. But I want to give you a signed copy. And if you read it, you know that the dedication and it says to Alina without him, nothing would be possible and everything would be pointless. And that's how I feel. And more generally, you know, women are incredible. To a man, a woman is fucking amazing because she can do things that you like I remember the first time I saw my mom resolve a conflict just with a smile and a joke. I was like, wow. I couldn't believe it because it was so different to the way that young men in particular tend to do things. And I was like, whoa, this is incredible. And so that's one of the terrible things about the standoffs that we create is like you can learn so much and grow so much together and help each other so much that you know, this division is completely unnecessary. It should be the other way around. We should be looking for ways to work together. And you know, that's why I've always found personal development and relationship growth together to be like essential parts of life, essential parts of life. So I he exactly what you're saying. Now as for the recognition, I mean, do you, you know, I believe that partly by talking about it, my wife does get the credit by dedicating my book to her in that way. She from people who read the book, she gets the credit. And also now I'd like to think after all the hard work that she put in, the investment is starting to slowly pay off. And as we know from Jordan Peterson, women make 80% of the purchasing decisions. So all that bacon that I'm going to be bringing home, you know, she's going to be enjoying the fruits of that. And so are our children. And that's kind of how it should be, at least for us, you know, she's very talented photographer in her own right, but it's not something that she's ever made into a huge business. And I'm sure she'll carry on doing it.
Status quo relationships (02:09:56)
But right now she just wants to be with our son and I, I could not be happier to be able to provide that in a society in which that's actually become quite difficult. Not many people can do that for each other. Very true. Yeah, it's interesting. And society definitely has a lot of influence on what people want or think they're supposed to want. So I lived a really interesting trajectory with my wife. So started out, she was a good Greek girl, raised to be a housewife. Her dad literally said, all right, fine. You want to go study film. It doesn't matter. You're just going to end up married with kids. And he didn't mean it in a horrible way. I mean, that's just how he came up. And so for her, she was very much raised to be a wife and a mother, but she had dreams. And but for the first decade of our relationship, she wasn't pursuing it. She ended up writing a book about this. And it was actually really interesting to see the beginning of our marriage from her perspective of like, Oh, I've kind of been relegated to this housewife role. I don't know, like I know I want to be a mom because in the beginning, she did. She wanted four kids. And you know, I know I want to be a mom, but I don't know that I want to be a housewife. And so but I do want to support my husband. And so like that was the vibe. And then I needed her help at work when we started this new company. And she was like, to support my husband, I will help. No interest in being an entrepreneur. So I want to be a good wife, I'm going to support my husband. And then supporting me was like, okay, the job's getting kind of big. Okay, now you, I'm going to need you to hire some employees. Now you're running a division with 40 people under you and you're responsible for $85 million in revenue. And you've got like a 10,000 square foot warehouse and like all this stuff. And it was just like, whoa, how did I turn around? And she's now an entrepreneur and like in the thick of it for years. And then realized is actually I don't want kids. I'm getting so much fulfillment out of this and growing and all of that that I want to do this thing. And I had to mourn the loss of my housewife. And it's something that we've talked really openly about. And she, you know, as this is all playing out, becoming very different, the dynamic between us is changing. And I was like, I want you to become whoever you want to become. And my value system mandates that I help you thrive in whatever way you want to thrive. But you have to give me this space to mourn that I used to have somebody that was supporting me, cooking all my meals, laying out my clothes, taking care of the house. You know, we were preparing to have kids, all that. And now that's going away. And I'm cool with that because I want you to be who you want to be. But let's be realistic about this is a major change. And so this is going to take some reorientation. And so we talked through it and process through it. And I actually was very fine not having kids for the longest time. I was the one dragging her feet. She wanted to have kids right away. And I was like, yo, let's slow roll this here. So I was very fine with that. But that change in dynamic wasn't something that was easy. But to your earliest point on this, it's we're not battling. Like we're trying to find this thing where we're sharing a life together. And that's how we've always looked at it is. Okay, for us divorces in an option. We never say the D word. We don't even joke about it. So I'm never going to be like, ah, if you don't do that, you're going to find yourself out on the street. Ha ha ha. Like, nope, we don't play that game at all. Yeah, we don't either. And this is the other thing that's difficult to say, but if you want to preserve a relationship, that's the sort of attitude that we will take in a lot of cases. In a lot of cases, and there are people who get married and never say a crossword to each other, but they're not the majority. And there are obviously people who are abusive and all of that. But for the most majority of people, having a relationship that you're not prepared to give up on either of you, it has to be both of you. It has to be both of you that are not prepared to give up on is going to make it much more likely that you don't give up on it. Absolutely facts. And so again, in a culture where we treat each other much more as objects than we, I think, ever have done before. And the way, "Oh, blonde brunette, get whatever you want on an app," that is much less likely, I think. And also, we're all so much more interested in ourselves as individuals that, again, becomes more difficult. So that thing that you're talking about, that's the way. That's the way. It's certainly the way that I've experienced it. The way to fulfillment in a relationship, the way to being together, to being able to have different visions of your future and reconcile them over time and accept that you're not both exactly the way that the other person would like. That's a process, man. That's a process that you have to really, really work on. And in order to do that, when you've got all these other great options, supposedly, it takes that commitment. It takes that commitment. It takes saying, "We're not talking about divorce." Because I don't know about you. There have been plenty of situations in our relationship. We could have gone down that towards that path, at least. And to me, all the stuff that we do and whatever, it's inevitable that your relationship with your spouse is going to be the most important thing. It just is.
No doubt. Just is. No doubt. Yeah, man. It's hard to watch what's happening in the culture now where there's just people having sex a lot less and you get the, God, I always forget how the stat goes. But it's like a small number of men are getting all the action. Getting all the action. Yeah. Nice and easy way to say it. And then hypergamy, which for people that haven't heard that word before, the female tendency to date across and up in the status hierarchy. Because women make more money, it becomes a more narrow pool. And if they're not able to broaden their horizons economically, then they find themselves without a mate or they're competing for that really, really small pool of guys that then aren't, they're not going to commit because they've got so many women coming to them for sex. And I hear this anecdotally. I mean, I have friends who are like incredible women. Incredible. They are, they are successful. They are fucking brilliant, talented. And they, they find themselves in relationships with guys where, you know, their expectation of what relationship is supposed to be, which is commitment and so on. Because the guy that they're with has to be even in many situations, even more amazing, even more amazing, you didn't need, you didn't need to commit. And there's also another factor here, which is, you know, again, this is difficult to say, but mate values different for men and women, particularly over time. And as a woman, as you get older, a guy in his 50s, who's a billionaire and successful and famous and whatever, he doesn't need to be dating a woman his age. Right. But a woman in her 50s is not likely to be dating a hot 25 year old guy. She's not how that works. So I feel really so much empathy and sympathy and a lot of concern, actually, for women who are in that situation because they deserve to be fulfilled and to have those relationships and to have the kids that they want to have. But we've got a society where that's more difficult, you know, it's really not a healthy situation, in my opinion. And also you talk about, you know, people having less sex and it's true, young people are having less sex than others. And you do have the issue at the top of the sort of male where they're having a lot. But also there are a lot of women now who are having a lot of sex, not because they actually want to, but because they think that this is the one that's going to take them to the relationship that they want. You see what I mean? Women are now quite often finding themselves having sex in a very masculine male way, where it's like you're supposed to not feel attachment and not feel attachment and all of that. And the truth is that's not really how it works for the vast majority of women. There are some exceptions, of course, but having sex in the male way of women just kind of makes them miserable, you know, and I think that's tragic. I think we should all acknowledge that that's tragic. That a lot of women are doing things that aren't making them happy. But again, for some reason, saying it makes you a bad person.
The Outcome and The Power Dynamics (02:19:09)
I think that so if I were going to steal man why that makes you a bad person, here's what I think is happening. So there is people need to know that I'm a worthy person, I'm worthy of love, I'm worthy of respect, no matter what path I choose. And so that's why if I were going to insert like a new way to talk about this, it's like let's say that I'm a life counselor and I do this in business a lot. Actually, I do this in life stuff. We have something called impact theory university. People come and ask me questions and I'm like, here's how I think through that problem. If somebody came to me with that, the first thing I always say is, okay, what's your goal? You tell me the goal and then I'm going to try to help you get there. And if you tell me that, okay, my goal is to have a lot of sex, but I don't want to catch feels. Okay, we can do that, but we have to understand there's no solutions, only trade offs. So if you run that, here are going to be the potential risk given what evolution has primed you for, which is going to be connection that sex is a high investment thing because from an evolutionary standpoint, you getting pregnant was a big deal for guys not so much. Amazing, you know, dying in dash and they're good and maybe they have a kid, maybe they don't. You're going to carry that kids a huge expense, you have to raise them up. So that is a, it puts you in a super vulnerable position, all that. So there's a lot of machinery in your brain that's going to be different than the partner that you're seeking who's really wired for that game that you're playing. So we can do it. Cool, but like we need to understand what, what are going to be the trade offs here. Odds of you catching feels go up a lot. Odds of you finding fulfillment and doing that go down a lot. You're going to be pulling against sort of the evolutionary trajectory, which again, I'm perfectly open to navigating that path, but I just want people to start is this isn't a moral thing. You're not a worse person. But if you're playing a, what I'll, when I say a higher risk game, what I mean is that evolution has given you a playbook for fulfillment. There's not only one path. So there are different ways to get there, but like the thing that I think protects Lisa and I somewhat is we understand by not having kids that we're, we're taking the more high risk path to fulfillment because we're doing it through a company that's part of it. So what happens to my fulfillment if the, the public that is consuming the product that I make is like this sucks. Do I get to be fulfilled anymore or is it now? Well, you didn't get the outcome that you wanted. And so that invalidates my whole life. So we've had to build like thought matrices to deal with that, right? So the way that we combat that is don't value yourself for the end result. Value yourself for the sincere pursuit. So did you sincerely try to get a growth mindset out at scale through ideas and entertainment? Yes, but it just, it didn't work. I was never able to quite build the skillset. All right. And you went for something. You really played to win and et cetera, et cetera. So all right, you're, you're going down this, this high risk path, not, not risk, you know, necessarily cosmically just fulfillment is my North star. I laid that out earlier. What I think everybody should be optimizing for. And so if we can strip some of the judgment away from that, if we can give people a growth mindset so they know, oh, I didn't get what I wanted. Okay, I can try something different and hopefully get something more akin to what I want in another path. So you're not giving up your agency. You know what you want. You established your goal first. You run an experiment. This is literally the physics of progress. You know what your goal is. You see what the obstacle is between where you're at and your goal. You run the experiment. Did you actually get closer to your goal? Yes, no, if no, try again better the next time. You know what I mean? You just repeat the cycle. But if you feel like, whoa, I didn't get what I wanted, that doesn't feel good. I feel judged by you. Now I'm just going to go on the attacks. You don't tell me the thing that I'm feeling. And that's where it's like, well, now you can't even navigate well on the higher risk path that you've chosen to get the fulfillment that you ultimately want to feel. Which is where we come back to the fact that most people are not operating a level of emotional detachment that you are. And so, and also if you speak to women privately, a lot of them will say that the falling into the trap that I described is not a deliberate thing. They're not going out to go and have lots of sex without catching the fields. If they're actually honest with themselves, not all of them, but many of them, if they can get past their emotion, what they actually want is to date and find a partner to be with for, you know, I was going to say the rest of life because that's kind of my value. But you know what I mean? To settle down with, to have children with whatever, if that's what they want. But they're not able to do that because they feel that there's a pressure because all the other girls are available to the guy that they're currently with, to have sex with on the second day. However, anecdotally, as I observe people around me, the women who don't, don't let that happen straight away tend to end up much more likely securing the partner. Yeah. That seems to be a strategy that works better.
The Triangle of Evil (02:24:20)
But you're right. I mean, I'm actually loving this conversation so much partly because you are showing people a way of operating in the world that is so much more powerful than the way that the vast majority of people operate. To some extent, me included. I don't have the level of emotional detachment that you do in terms of making these decisions. So I'm learning. It's interesting. You have a way though of thinking that is very analytical. You're able to articulate very difficult points. So I suppose in the end, this is all a trade off because I would kill to be able to do what you do, which now brings us to the triangle of evil because I want your thoughts on this. Well, I need your help. Well, I'm not going to tell you about this because this is something that I find very distressing. Let's talk about evil. You. Yeah. I think of evil. I think of you. I think of you. Come on. Of course. Yeah. Okay. So the triangle of evil is Mao Stalin Hitler. And I think that they, I've read a lot about them and they feel to me reflective of something that's just real in the human psyche. And I have taken away from reading about them. So oddly enough, Hitler was like sort of the, the slow boy in all of this did not kill nearly as many people as Stalin in Mao, like, which growing up, I never heard about. I had no idea that those were dark figures in the world, which is already startling, but reading about them, getting back to this idea of their, so in fact, we haven't talked about this, but we've sort of danced around it. The way I see the world is it is a scale. So you have right and left just to keep it easy, but there's pathology on both sides. So if you go too far in either direction, you're going to have a problem. It doesn't matter. So Mao and Stalin are what the left look like when they become pathological and Hitler is what the right looks like when it becomes pathological. Even in and of itself, that's disputable, but we can get into it. Hit me with it. Well, people don't like to hear this argument, but there's a reason that Hitler's party was called the National Socialists. Interesting. What does the right then look like if it goes pathological? Well, this is the debate. I mean, not only Nazism, but also Fascism. I mean, the term Fascism comes from the word fascia, which is a bundle in Rome that was woven. It's a collectivist, mind-sir. Both the fascists and the National Socialists on a large number of things were left-wing in the way that we conceive of being left-wing now, economically, particularly. We have an interview on our channel with one of my favorite guest ever. He's a brilliant guy called Stephen Hicks, a Canadian professor of his philosopher and historian of philosophy. If you want to delve into that, I'd recommend people go and check that out because I won't do it justice here. However, we can also conceptualize it rather than going as a scale, as a circle, or like a horseshoe or something, where the two extremes end up coming quite close together because they end up operating in similar ways. Just a side point, really, for our discussion. No, it's actually very interesting. So reading about them, seeing that there's this horseshoe shaped where they're trying to control everything because, and I'll even give them the benefit of the doubt and I will say they're not evil. They really believed that they had the right answer. Now it's tough to look real close and not feel like they weren't just fucking evil, but that's too easy. It's an easy way to dismiss them. Let's say for a second that they really believed in their heart that they were going to do good things for a lot of people. But just real quick, I just have to kill a few of you in order to get everybody in line because I'm trying to distribute things fairly or I'm trying to, in the case of... Like a better world. Yeah, in the case of Nazi Germany, like, "Hey, we got a bum wrap after World War I. We got to rise out of this somehow." And but I may not have to kill a few of you and I am going to have to make sure that you don't say anything bad against me. And so to distribute everything evenly, we're going to have to kill the Koolocks. But at the end of this, everything's going to be okay. So what is it about human nature that allows people to think that to usher in the utopia, it's okay to break a few eggs to make the omelet. I don't know is the honest answer. I think we talked a little bit about collectivism before and I think that's a big part of the answer to your question. Collectivism is an ideology that justifies the sacrifice of some for the benefit of the greater good.
Collectivism and Democracy are Antithetical (02:29:40)
The pathology requires the abandonment of the individual's sacredness. Certainly in the cases that you are talking about, that was absolutely the case. These are not people who believed in the rights of the individual. These are people who believed that for the greater good, some people must be sacrificed. And who knows? I mean, one of the difficult parts of this conversation is, can you run a country like Russia on a Western liberal mindset? This is a big debate among geopoliticians. Because the people just won't take to it. It's not so much about the people. It's a pretty fucking hard country to survive in. It's cold. It's remote. It's disparate. It's poorly developed. Can you really make that country exist without authoritarianism? It's a legitimate question. Actually. Why would it need authoritarianism? I thought you were going to say you would need collectivism. Well, it's both. So you can't have one without the other one. So you need a totalitarian leader to have a collectivist state? Is potentially a way of looking at decisions. I'm not committing to that statement. But if you look at the history of Russia, I mean Russia has never had democracy. There's never been a single proper democratic position of power in Russia ever. Hm. Ever. It's not the case. There are different ways of conceiving of it. A lot of geopolitical thinkers talk about the different types of civilizations and British and American civilizations. This is actually something I have a couple of pieces on my sub stack about this. Coming down the philosophy of a guy called Alexander Dugan, who's called the call him Putin's brain. How influential he is in the Kremlin? We don't know exactly. But I break down some of the basic arguments. The argument is that countries like Britain and America, the civilizations of the sea, their trading nations, their commercial nations, they use the power of their navy historically speaking like the British Empire and today the United States to influence and interact with other countries. And this goes back historically Carthage was a civilization of the sea. They used a trading nation and they stood in opposition to the Roman Empire, which is a civilization of the land, to the Chinese and the Russian empires today, which are civilizations of the land. And one of the arguments is that civilizations of the land are necessarily collectivist and necessarily authoritarian. Because the way that they have to operate in the world is very, very different to the way that trading nations operate. Because the values of liberalism, for example, are much more suited to a naval based trading nation than it is to a land based nation like Russia or China. So to some extent, am I claiming that if it's kind of like that argument about can you bomb democracy into Afghanistan? Well, turns out you can't. And that's because they have their own culture and their own values that don't really, then it's not having voting booths is not enough for democracy. It requires certain other cultural assumptions that don't exist in other parts of the world. So yeah, collectivism seems to be a particular thing that goes hand in hand with authoritarianism and it makes sense because if you have a society in which the majority is going to kill a minority or tell them what to do or restrict their rights and somehow that will require force inevitably. Yeah, that's the part that always feels like it's missing from the dialogue of people that want to, you know, redistribute wealth or whatever is at some point when you start taking things from one person to give to somebody else, you're going to have to do that by force. Like it won't, it won't just happen naturally.
Moral Codes & Cultural Paths
The Triangle of Evil, Predicting the Cultural Path Of Communism (02:33:48)
And so you really stopped me in my tracks when you said that a collectivist nation requires an authoritarian leader. I had never thought about that before. That's really interesting because I had always thought about it as just communism requires an authoritarian leader, but I didn't step it back to the collectivist society that ends up giving birth to communism also just by its nature. That's where it's headed. That's really interesting. I don't know how I feel about that. I don't actually know if it's true. I'm throwing it out there as an idea for us to discuss. It rings distressingly true. I just don't like the way it makes me feel. So that, okay, so the reason that I call this a triangle of evil is because reading about it was really eye opening. So I grew up in Tacoma, Washington, not particularly educated on this kind of stuff, then went straight into business as a way to have enough resources to tell my stories. And so maybe when a lot of other people were waking up to what the world is like, I was not. And so I discovered this when I started reading about history. And when you read about history, you start to see the patterns that people are talking about. And you're like, whoa, like this stuff really does repeat. Like this becomes really predictable, which is why it feels like talking about quantum culture is important because whatever happens to the culture is really going to have profound impacts on the individual, my bias again, and how they either can thrive or not thrive. And so reading about, for instance, how Mao took over China and what the human tragedy is when you really believe that it's okay to kill as many people as you need to in order to have the power to make the world go the way that you want it to go. And I can't help but keep defaulting back to if you know what your goal is and you know the experiment that you're going to run and you can look at the outcome of this. It's like, hey, this is predictable that if you try to do communism, like you, because everyone keeps going, well communism hasn't really been tried or socialism hasn't really been tried. It's like, but you can run it even as a thought experiment. So even if I grant you, okay, these are all imperfect, the thought experiment should lead you to realize it can't be done perfectly. It's not possible because you're asking every single person to willingly give things up on an equal basis. And when you interface with the world in any capacity, you very quickly realize it's just impossible to get everybody to think the same. And so my read on this is that evolution guaranteed that people don't think the same, that it wants that dynamic tension that we were talking about before. What do you, like as somebody that grew up in the USSR, what do you say to people that are like, oh, it's never really been tried. We just need to get it right. You know, in some ways, I almost don't think there's any point in saying anything because I don't think they're coming from the same place that you come from when you're talking about these things. You come at it from the point of view of what is my goal? How am I going to get there? I don't think the people who advocate for, you know, fairly extreme forms of socialism or communism or social democracy, as they call it, but often it's really a disguise for their views. I don't think they're coming at it from the point of view of a goal. I think they're coming at it from a point of view of dissatisfaction with a status quo. And people who start revolutions are operating almost always on that basis. It's not about, you know, I was driving past a shop and I saw a better table. I'll go and buy that table. It's like this table is so bad. Let's throw it out and then we'll find something, right? I think that tends to be how people think about it. And you know, the thing I always say to people in the West, you talk about the inevitability of it all. As you know, I talk about this in the book, my grandmother, she's not my biological grandmother, but she was my grandfather's second wife and I always call her my grandmother. She was born in a gool-aid. She was there because her parents who weren't married or didn't know each other at the time had been sent there, both losing their other spouses in the process. And they met there and she was born in this camp. And what happened once you were released from the camps was you were not allowed to live within a very long distance of the major cities in the USSR. You essentially became like a third-class citizen. And what happened was most of the former prisoners of these camps ended up settling in areas in small towns nearby, where they lived together with the local, small minority of the local native population, various sort of tribes that had been living there for centuries. And the former guards from the very same camps that these prisoners had been in. In 1953, when Joseph Stalin died, my grandmother and her family, they were living in a tiny flat, tiny apartment across the landing. There was another apartment, which was a family where the man was one of the guards and one of the camps. And my grandmother tells a story how that guy's mother, if the kids misbehaved, she would say to them, "When your parents get sent back to the camp, you're going to get kicked out and we're going to get your apartment as well." Now, 1953, Joseph Stalin died. And my grandmother told me that there was a spate of suicides among these former guards, because what they were doing was finally revealed for what it was. These people truly believed, they truly believed that they were beating these people and torturing these people and killing these people for the greater good, because that's what they were told. And so what I say to people in the West always is, "Do not be a useful idiot. Do not violate your own moral standards and your own moral rules for the sake of the greater good. There is no greater good than your own moral standards." There is no greater good than that. Do you know, and in fact, you do because you've read the book, but most people have no idea how the USSR got a nuclear bomb. He was given to them by Soviet sympathizers in the West. And that is why Joseph Stalin, a man who killed millions of his own people, ended up having a nuclear weapon and was able therefore to threaten and challenge the West. And that's how you end up with the Cold War, because people in the West, some of them, were so enamored with their own vision of utopia that they would give the most destructive weapon and the history of the world to one of the most evil men in the 20th century, because they believed in this collectivist vision and they were useful idiots. Do not be a useful idiot.
How do you come up with a moral code? (02:41:38)
Do not violate your own moral code for anyone, for anything. That's what I say to people in the West. How do you come up with a moral code? Well you're going all Jordan Peterson on me, because when he had me on his podcast, we had a three-hour conversation about God. I listened to it. Yeah. And it was difficult because the flip and obvious answer is what I learned from my parents, it's what I learned from the books I read, it's from my learn from the society in which I lived from the movies I watched and the residual thing that I got out of that. Jordan Peterson probably tells you it's religion. Other people will tell you something else. I don't have that answer. I wish I did. Do you think we live in a time where you have to cobble one together? I've had to cobble one together, yeah. Have you? Yes. Right. So that's kind of worrying in some ways. I think it's part of why we're at where we're at. That's what we're talking about exactly. But I also think a moral code is not always true, because a moral code will sometimes require you to jump in front of a tank, but generally speaking, a moral code is a good long-term strategy because it is a way of relating to other people and to reality that is more effective than others. This is one of the things that I find so funny when people say to me, "Oh, Constantine, you're so brave for speaking out about this." I actually believe that. You believe that? Yeah. It's one of the reasons I want to have you on. Okay. Well, what I say to these people, are you fucking mental? What are you talking about? What are you talking about? How is it brave? My answer is to staff to death and the gulags. What you think of me expressing my opinion in public is brave. Yeah. Why? That's insanity. There's nothing brave about it. It's my duty to say what I think if I think that something is wrong, isn't it? Yes. So why is that brave? Just because something is right doesn't mean that it doesn't demand courage. Okay. How does it demand courage? Ooh, that's interesting. This doesn't feel like you could possibly be asking me that question. I love it. We are equally thinking the other person is absolutely out of their minds. Okay. So here's how I look at your life. You are, you are whip at smart men and you are really articulate and you could make a real living even in the Soviet Union. If you just like turned a part of your brain off that was like, "I'm either never going to talk about these things or I'm only going to talk about them when I'm at home and I will use a system to my advantage. I will work my way up, which you'd be very easily be able to do because you can outthink people. So I have a feeling if you had just a little evil in you, you could get people to think things were their ideas that were clearly yours. You would manipulate the shit out of them. You would rise to a position of power. And so you could do all of that. And now it would require you to set aside your moral compass or not have one or adopt one out of convenience, which I unfortunately think humans are all too capable of doing. So the fact that you don't do any of that, the fact that you are in a Western country in a moment where people really get a certain religious emotional righteousness out of tearing down wrongthink and the wrong people and it makes them feel like they have done something good. And it's a sugar version of moral virtue, but it's still like something gives him a rush.
What do you learn from women? (02:45:30)
And so now look, you're not dumb. So you've made, you've made a good living out of doing that. And I think your channel is only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. But be cut in, I'll say it in a single sentence, why to me it's you seem brave. You're a contrarian. You don't mind the conflict. You actually posted a hilarious photo of you. Maybe it was a video. On Twitter, it was you with a machine gun and you said it's like... Getting ready to open Twitter. Yeah, exactly, exactly. And I was like, that's fucking hilarious. And then yeah, I'm not going to do that because I hate that. And my audience, this may not seem as weird to you because it's the only time we sat down across from each other. My audience is going to find this episode very weird. Oh, are they? I've never done an episode like this ever. Have you not? Never. Oh, wow. But you should have told me I would have gone easy on them. No, this is great. I love it. I would have lit a candle. I would have shared that. Did a little stroking. It's very kind. No, no, no need. But it's... So anyway, when I see people that are just completely unafraid to roll up to Twitter with the machine gun in hand, I'm like, all right, you say what you believe in, you're standing for something I think it's a vision. But what should I be afraid of? This is what I don't understand. What is it that I'm supposed to be afraid of? A bunch of people I don't know and don't respect on a social media platform where they don't even show their face or name saying things about me? No, you should fear what's happening to Jordan Peterson. He said he's in the middle of 10 lawsuits. As somebody that's been in the middle of lawsuits, let me tell you what a toll they take on him. And he... He'd be too stupid to not brave. Maybe that's what's going on. I don't think you're stupid, but you might be naive to something. That is entirely possible. And as you crack, it'll be interesting to see what happens to you. When you crack a million subs on YouTube, it starts to get different real fast. And what's happening with Jordan, where he's with the whole Bill C-16, which I can think of no hotter, like that's the nuclear core. And he came to prominence by latching on to the nuclear core. And he has said in his very Jordan Peterson way that if you arrest me, I will... If you give me a fine, I refuse to pay it. If you put me in jail, I will go on a hunger strike. And I actually think he means it. I think he's so fucking stubborn that he actually will. And in the Gulag Archipelago, there's a great section from Solzhenitsyn where he says, "It's really interesting. People come in, you get tortured, everybody breaks." Actually, that's not true. Not everybody breaks. And the people that are so ideologically convicted, they will let you kill them and they're all women. And I was like, "That is fucking hilarious. Going back to what you were saying about men and women being different." And I just thought, "That's my wife." And that's Jordan Peterson, which he has said, "I have a more feminine temperament." Like he just will get something in his head and it apparently, no matter the amount of pain that rains down on that man, he just keeps going. And that doesn't look fun to me. His life does not look fun to me, but I believe Jordan isn't perfect. He's a man.
Are you really saying what you think, or is this calculated? (02:48:54)
Clearly. And by the way, I think he's amazing. So do I? But holy shit, does he sometimes say things? And I'm like, "Jordan, are you trying to make your life suck?" That's a really dumb way to say that. But if we come back to the very beginning of our conversation, which is about meaning and fulfillment, I couldn't be fulfilled. And using my whatever, you're very kind about my intelligence and everything else, using that for things that I fundamentally, I think are wrong. So that reads as brave. P.S. No, what that reads as is not having a choice. It doesn't read as brave to you. I get that. I hear you. But I don't have a choice. Bravery is when you're like, "Well, I could do this. I could do that. I'll do this." I don't really feel like I have a choice. I feel like it's weird that I have a background that's quite unusual that is perfectly fitted to the cultural moment at the moment, which is I was born in the Soviet Union. I speak Russian and English. I understand both cultures. I cannot tickle in myself pretty well. I grew up in Britain, so I fit in that culture. I can see it as an outsider and likewise in America. I can make things funny if I need to. I can be serious if I need to. It's a skill set and a background that not many people have. What choice do I have? Would you be a dissident in Russia? Yes. Yeah, see, fuck. Do you know... My whole family were dissidents in Russia. It's not a new thing. That is very interesting. That's actually one of the things that I wrote a piece on my sub-stack when my son was born. I talked about a lot of this. We come from generations of people who were killed for their beliefs. I'm not going to dishonor them. I'll say it again. From where I'm sitting, that's brave. I want to think that I would be as tough. I don't know if I'd be a dissident in Russia. That's just the honest answer. That doesn't make me feel good about myself. And the story I will tell myself tonight is going to be that I would work in the underground. But I wouldn't be, I think her name is Nadia, from Pussy Riot. No fucking way. And I have met her and had her to the house and I was just like, "What the fuck were you doing?" That was my impulse. You know they kill people for doing that. So yeah, I am terrified that I could ever become the useful idiot. I am terrified that I will get tested by life and come out of coward. So I do. I mean the whole reason that I have changed the tenor of my show over the last three years is to not feel like a coward. But I don't know that I'd be a dissident in Russia. I don't know that I would. You know what? I think the truth is that nobody does. You don't know who you are until you're in that moment. I might turn out to be a little pussy if I go back to Russia, which I don't for precisely the reasons that we've discussed. I don't think you do know that. I don't think anyone does. But my point is, and this is not a self-obsessed conversation, I don't understand why people keep saying this to me. The things that I'm saying are reasonable things. I do my best to articulate them in a way that people can hear. Sometimes I fail, of course, and sometimes just like Jordan Peterson, I'm human. So I say things that piss people off. I'm surrounded by people who give me advice on how to say them better for which I'm grateful. And one of the things that really I find very positive, particularly after the Oxford speech that I did, I get very famous people. From the left, reaching out to me now and going, "Can we talk? How about this? Can we discuss this?" Giving me advice too and going, "Look, if you want to, we can see that in your speech you were trying to reach the other side. Well, if you do, here's a way that you might want to phrase this." I see that as reassurance. I see that as a sign of that I'm doing the right thing. But I don't really understand what this is that I'm supposed to fear. I don't know why Jordan isn't 10 lawsuits, but do I think that I need to be? Probably not. I haven't made a massive living out of trigonometry. It's just something that pays the bills at the moment. It will get to a point where it's massive. I look forward to that moment. I see already in the last few months what happens as you grow. The words you say matter more. People take them more literally more seriously. It's an exciting challenge, isn't it? I remember it's a moment that stuck with me when I was a kid. I went to a boarding school and so we rarely encountered the parents of the other kids. One time I was watching a rugby game that my friend was playing and then his dad was on the sideline. We were talking about a game, an international rugby game that had happened a few days ago. Somebody said to him, "Well, there was this player. He took the final kick. Imagine that pressure. Wow, that's got to be hard." His dad of my friend, he said, "That's not how you think about it. The way you think about it is imagine how many people would love to be in the position to have that sort of impact." Now always stayed with me. What a privilege it is. I've just spent half a long... Before we sat down and people would think I'm sucking up to you, but we sat down, we were talking about various stuff and one of them was my business and trigonometry. I could see within seconds that you've got one of the most incredible mindsets about that stuff that I've ever encountered. I get to sit here and speak with you for hours. Where's the bravery? Come on, man. Tens of thousands of your countrymen, many of them are still alive, stormed the beach as a Normandy. Come on. Come on. More people need to say what they think. It's not that scary and it's not that hard. By the way, if more people did it, it would be a lot less scary for everybody. That's why I came here from Bill Mars Show. Bill Mars is doing exactly what he should be. He's using his voice to say enough. Enough of this craziness. Guess what? Nothing happens. Especially if you're a multimillionaire Hollywood celebrity. Nothing happens. His audience is now filled with people who were clapping points that I was making. That's what happens when people speak up. The reason I resist so much, this label of brave, is not some personal thing. I just think it's true in your case. I'm not saying it's true in other people's cases. But a lot of people want to push that bravery on to me so they don't have to do anything. They can say, "Well, I'm not as brave. I'm going to sit here and say nothing." Well, it doesn't take any courage, really.
Conclusion: A Message To The World
Simon Konjung's Message to the World (02:56:14)
It just takes principles. Dude, this has been so fun. Where can people follow you? I'm at Constance and Kissing Everywhere, the YouTube channel is trigonometry and the book is an immigrant's love letter to the West. Everybody, if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care. Peace. Click here now to learn why this generation of men is struggling and feeling lost. I honestly think that you could look at a man on the street now, point at him and have a 50% chance that he hasn't had sex in the last year. That's insane. What we want is for women to have partners that they are fundamentally attracted.