The Book: Enjoy The Decline, by Aaron Clarey, 204 pages, published 2013.
Summary: Subtitled “Accepting and Living with the Death of the United States”, this book asserts that the United States is in a terminal economic and social decline. It argues that readers, in order to live their lives to the fullest during this decline, should adjust psychologically to this new reality and re-organize their lifestyle so as to not only insulate themselves as much as possible from the decline, but even to enjoy life during this decline.
By far the most useful aspect of this book, in my opinion, is in the case that it makes for readers to realize that whatever bourgeois values they may presently possess, there is a high probability those values are maladaptive in the present economic and social climate. Up has become down and right has become wrong in these last days of the American republic. Work hard and save for retirement? Don’t be ridiculous. Why save when the nation’s leaders gleefully debauch the currency, pulling a “stealth Cyprus” to the tune of 8 – 10% each year? Why delay gratification when there will likely be little / no Social Security for Xers and younger generations, particularly if the government will simply appropriate your savings through an outright Cyprus/France/Hungary/Ireland/Argentina/Poland-style seizure? Why work hard, when doing so only qualifies you to be taxed even more to support an income redistribution scheme consuming more than 2/3 of the Federal budget, “spread [your hard-earned monies] around a little“, to bankroll parasites who didn’t earn it? Why hope for things to get better when unemployment is presently at around 14% and the labor force participation rate is at a 30-year low, is trending downward, and has been so for decades? And why scrimp to pay for college while the higher ed bubble continues to inflate, making your parent’s advice to “get an education” in order to succeed nearly financially suicidal and economically ill-advised in the new economic reality? For that matter, why marry and have children? Silly rabbit, very few men and women these days are equipped to be proper husbands and wives. Moreover, 5,000 years of traditional Marriage 1.0 has been subsumed by Marriage 2.0–and now, by homogamy–and is characterized by easy divorce and the subsequent trafficking in former spouses (usu but not always ex husbands) for the pecuniary interests of the state and ex-wives.
Pretty grim picture, to be sure. So what does Mr. Clarey advise? First, that readers of his book put into action the conclusions that naturally follow from a hard-nosed assessment of the ground truth: a realignment of their behaviors and habits. To this end, the author dedicates a chapter toward what he calls “the art of minimalism”–reducing possessions to the minimum essentials necessary, thereby lowering purchasing, maintenance, storage, and disposal costs. Techniques from the minimalizing playbook include buying things used or second-hand, avoiding having (expensive) children, acquiring a trade in lieu of an “education”, performing repairs yourself, eschewing going out to eat and instead entertaining at home, avoiding buying real estate (a house is a liability, not an asset), and buying only catastrophic health insurance. Moreover, since the minimalist lifestyle will likely appeal to far more men than women, readers should have little issue with following through on his additional recommendation to avoid the expense of weddings–and if one does get married, elope. Do it all correctly, and Mr. Clarey calculates that a single fellow can live quite nicely for less than $USD 20,000 a year, depending on the locale. It doesn’t take that much time to earn 20,000, even in today’s poor economy, leaving the Enjoying the Decline (ETD) citizen ample time to take many vacations, work when he wants, and enjoy life in general, heeding Mr. Clarey’s call for readers to “not waste their youth” like he did.
Continuing on the minimalism vein, for those ETDers who want to go the “full Clarey“, he recommends not even bothering to save for retirement (see “why delay gratification”, above). Won’t that leave a person penniless in old age? Yes, it will, and Mr. Clarey suggests, in all seriousness, the .45 cal “Smith and Wesson retirement plan”, as the last six months of life are extremely expensive and not all that pleasant anyways. Not a very Christian recommendation as far as recommendations go, but Mr. Clarey does not identify as a Believer and therefore has the latitude to recommend such a nihilistic option.
For those who do follow his minimalist advice, Mr. Clarey outlines several benefits: freedom from employers and the daily rat-race, better mental and physical health, a better social and family life, more travel, more sleep, and, paradoxically, a higher chance of becoming rich. In Mr. Clarey’s accounting, minimalizing your life offers you the chance to enjoy your youth while you can and focus on things that really matter, such as family, friends, and other human relationships, rather than on busting your hump as a cube-drone for a faceless company to whom you are likely little more than a number. And even if you’re not, is your work more important than your family? Will your work be there over the long haul? Or will your family?
Interestingly, Mr. Clarey’s book contains a chapter called “Plunder”, where he identifies ways in which an ETDer may take advantage of the many government programs designed to provide assistance to those with similar income levels as the minimalizing ETDer, thus aiding the ETDer in the effort to enjoy life and work less. From welfare to free meals to health care to food stamps, the author provides a road map to where the aspiring ETDer may obtain all the no-cost-to-him government cheese available. Won’t that make the ETDer a member of the parasite class, those folks disparaged above (see “spread around”, above)? Certainly, but then again, one may rationalize doing so in view of (a) they’re giving it away anyway, (b) the ETDer is merely taking back what he paid in, and (c) in taking some of the cheese, the ETDer is helping accelerate the decline and fall of the United States and the presumably the spawning of whatever political entity will eventually replace it.
The last chapter of the book was also the most uplifting one. Titled “Revenge”, it has nothing to do with directly harming one’s adversaries; instead, it advises the ETDer to “get back” at the leftists who have destroyed this country simply by being happy. By living life to the fullest, by doing fun things, grandiose-fun things, working less, being a better, more cultured person, having better friends, by truly enjoying and making the best of a finite life, the ETDer rubs the leftist’s nose in the equalitarian misery he has made for himself. Thus while the leftist on his death bed compares the ETDer’s life, lived to the fullest, to his, and is filled with envy, in contrast, the ETDer will die with few regrets but many good memories.
All told, I thoroughgoingly enjoyed this book, despite some jabs at my male-heavy semi-industrial home town in a flyover state suffering from chronic “brain drain”–as well as ethically dubious advice to mooch off church groups as part of the Plunder program. In addition, even though I am not in a position to minimalize as much as he recommends (married, three kids, etc) there is wisdom in here for just about everyone. Especially for the single male, for whom I think this book is most applicable. For it is he who is not subject to baby rabies, not genetically hardwired to “nest”, and likely to be marriage-cautious if not marriage-avoidant, single males are the population subgroup best positioned and most inclined to enjoy the decline, such as it is, and will be.
About the author: EW is a well-trained monkey operating heavier-than-air machinery. His interests outside of being an opinionated rabble-rouser are hunting, working out, motorcycling, spending time with his family, and flying. He is a father to three, a husband to one, and is a sometime contributor here at Spearhead. More of his intolerable drivel is available at the blog The Elusive Wapiti.