The Moron Manual

Chapter 2

All progress has been brought about by increasing efficiency, which is defined as having more accomplished with less effort. We morons should receive credit for our attempts to leap ahead in progress by entirely transcending effort. Instead, we must defend ourselves from abuse.

It is a characteristic of the capitalist system that there are many people with a propensity for doing things, in an uncontrolled, even frenzied manner. These people look upon us as obstacles, and never tire of making trouble. Remember that when someone demands that you do something, it is a claim to some of your very own precious life energy, the amount of which is not limitless. Persons who recklessly expend their own energy have a universal characteristic: they want others to do the same. Instead of watching developments in a detached and scientific way, they insist that everyone do something—serve, study, discuss, or agitate. The sheer arrogance of such people is, to the naive moron, upsetting. Even in refusing their imperious demands, we find ourselves wasting energy. Such people refuse to distinguish between effort and activity.

Picture the family dog dozing on the front steps. A bicycle glides by. Suddenly the dog is in furious activity, barking and chasing after the intruder. Is the dog expending energy? Yes. Is the dog expending effort? No. The dog does not say to itself, "Oh God! Here comes a bicycle. Now I have to get up and run around and bark." It simply reacts. It does not make itself do anything. It does not make an effort.

Effort is the deliberate, purposeful direction of energy. It is the taking of trouble. It is the opposite of thoughtless, intoxicated, unstructured activity. It is the crux of competence. In short, it is our enemy.


THE MORON IDEAL: Activity without Effort.

One must not confuse activity with effort. Effort is mind-directed activity. Effort is mental: that is what is wrong with it.

An obvious example of activity without effort is laughter. One does not make an effort to laugh, though it can be quite strenuous. It is true that close analysis might reveal that we do expend mental effort in getting the joke, but the impression is one of effortless reaction. We experience it as if it were effortless, and that is enough.

A more controversial example is sexual activity. There are those who claim that the important sex organ for humans is the brain—that taking effort out of sex would change it from an active delight into a passive reflex. For morons, however, the entire point of sex is that it provides thrills without effort. We may congratulate ourselves that our view is the more widely supported one in the culture. Much of the mass media concerns itself with little else.

One might say that our view of sex is that it is a pleasure designed for children—but reserved for adults. We thumb our noses at those who insist that brainless passion cannot provide real pleasure. What we derive real pleasure from is activity without effort.

This is why daytime television is so full of morons discussing their sex lives and endlessly asking of one another: "Am I all right?" If I am in charge of my sex life, directing it with my mind, then I can decide for myself if what I do is helpful or hurtful. Being in charge, however, would take effort. It is easier to let whatever happens just happen—and then consult my fellow morons to discover if it was healthy or unhealthy. This can have the further benefit of ameliorating the bad effects, if any, by spreading them around.

Sex worship, then, comes naturally to morons. Sexual passion, we say, is the strongest motivation of them all, and the greatest pleasure of them all, and the best spectator sport of them all. Sex, we hold, is the best way to get attention, to sell soap, to entertain, and to thrill. Best of all, we can do it with no mental effort whatever.

That is why, for morons, lust is always overwhelming, and passion is always irresistible. The idea is that sex combines the maximum of pleasure with the minimum of effort, because it is automatic. You don't learn, you don't study; you just do what comes naturally.

Here is a quote in Harper's magazine of John Keker, chief prosecutor in the Ollie North case. About Washington D.C., he says: "...everything is political. Sex is political. Everyone is introduced by their title. Everyone is either in or out. It's like high school." (Jan.'90,p.71)

Sex is political because it is the perfect paradigm, for morons, of effortless living. Think how many commentators who claim erudition seek an explanation for the "crisis mentality" of our time—while not noticing the fact that a "crisis" is a "climax."

This helps us square our hatred of effort with the idea that morons are in charge of things. The trick is to be in charge of the easy things, when they are also the influential things. Thus, being in charge is the means of avoiding effort. The eagerness of the pro-effort people to help us out is well known. Since they are more interested in effort than in ends, we provide the ends and let them provide the effort. They assume we mean well, and we do: we mean to use them well.

It is said that life is effort—that to hate effort is to hate life itself. This may be true, but it is of little interest, since it is irrelevant. We find ourselves alive. The issue is to stay that way without expending effort.

A question: are we a majority or a minority? If we believe that the most popular thing in the world is "something for nothing," then haters of effort must be in the majority. Or if we believe that the two most powerful advertising words are free and easy, then anti-effort must be the philosophy of the day. However, this is belied by observation. It is hard to watch the ceaseless struggle of people to get rich in spite of government opposition, without concluding that whenever there is an end in view, most people love effort. Anyway, the answer to our question is mostly a matter of definition, and is not very important. What is important is the question. It reminds us to ask: do we want to be a majority or a minority? Here, the answer is clear.

There is no use equivocating. A society composed mostly of morons will quickly cease to exist. To avoid effort, we must be a minority reaping the benefit of the efforts of the majority. We must have methods—preferably effortless methods—of self-defense and of manipulation. These methods have been developed and are in use. Regrettably, it does take some effort to learn them. Once learned, however, they can become automatic and effortless.

If you are a government clerk, for example, there is a right way and a wrong way to refuse service. The right way takes no more effort than the wrong way, but results in far less bad feeling.

WRONG: "Later! I'm busy!"

RIGHT: "Help! I'm overwhelmed!"

The principle behind this illustration will be explained in due course. Our point here is to note that morons do not have to act at random. We can always be more efficient in our avoidance of effort. We can do this by increasing our self-knowledge. There are ways of defending ourselves without being defensive. There are ways of manipulating others without making them angry.

Let us begin by recalling the greatest of all the morons, and finding how we can benefit from his methods.

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