The Moron Manual

Chapter 8

Traditional Morality can be characterized as a compromise between two opposing ideals: Self-reliance and Altruism. On the one hand are Rugged Individualism and Every Man for Himself. On the other hand, No Man is an Island.

Individualism holds little interest for morons, since it exalts personal effort and personal reward. The individualist shares only in response to his own values, rather than in response to the values of others. This is useless to us.

Altruism, on the other hand, tells people to be unselfish, to share, and to sacrifice. When you have an individual who is eager at all times to do something, and who believes in self-sacrifice, then of course you have an individual who is effectively demanding that you utilize his efforts on behalf of whatever you know to be a good cause.

The most powerful fact which you will discover about altruism is that everyone has a different idea of what it is. All know that it demands sacrifice, but all differ on how much is to be sacrificed and to whom. Anyone who wishes to avoid wasting effort or using up energy will realize the importance of taking a lead in the determination of the recipient of any sacrifices about to be made. To put the matter bluntly, it might as well be you.

The history of our country is largely a history of the tension between the opposite moral poles of altruism and individualism. At the beginning, individualism triumphed. The struggle to achieve separation of church and state was basically a struggle against the idea of self-sacrifice and for the idea of the "pursuit of happiness." But the churchly ideal resurged again and again. The focus of tension shifted back and forth between the two poles. It was a struggle to move the margin.

At the turn of our century, the Progressive Movement scored a decisive victory by setting the margin in slow but steady motion toward the pole of altruism. The two World Wars were considered to be victories for altruism. By the 1960's, rugged individualism was on the lunatic fringe and no longer respectable. The methods already described were all put to use, and proved remarkably effective. Morons—often to their surprise—found themselves lionized and listened to. They were on the leading edge of virtue. The margin had not only been moved, but overturned. They had become deserving not in spite of but because of being morons.

However, it must be admitted that as of this writing, that state of bliss no longer obtains. An entire region of the world—the very one where morons had been in charge for the longest time—collapsed. Due to our salubrious influence on the various communication media, our influence in our own country has not so far diminished. We may hope that the margin has not moved in the wrong direction. But we must not be complacent. We must remind ourselves to focus on the correct ethical areas.


In the early days of our country, helping others was considered a fringe issue—a corollary of benevolence. The central issue was virtue. Now, happily, virtue is peripheral, and the central issue is helping others. The MORON MISSION is to be one of those others.

What are the best methods of accomplishing this goal? One might suppose that the first method would be to appear deserving of help. This would ignore the fact that the margin has been overturned. In fact, one must be sure to appear undeserving. This is because we do not ask for help. We demand help. We insist on it as a right.


Anyone—even a moron—can be unlucky, and can need temporary help. It is important to understand that such is not relevant. It is a benevolence, given by choice. It is temporary; therefore, it is not relevant. Permanent help is our goal, to achieve which we must never fail to appear undeserving. It is only the hopeless, the lost, the totally undeserving who are deemed to merit permanent help—since they are clearly unable to help themselves. They and they alone can demand help.


Our success with this demand is, of course, a tribute to the generosity of our countrymen; but more importantly, it is a tribute to the patience with which the margin was inched along year after year. At one time, it was generous to refrain from throwing a "bum" out of town. Then it was generous to offer the "indigent" a cup of coffee. Now, to be generous, one must give the "homeless" anything demanded. The present success is, we should admit, little short of astounding. We should admit it in order to guard against hubris.

That over-confidence is a danger for morons is evidenced by the frequent mention in public discourse of the word backlash. When help becomes a scandal, the cause of all morons suffers a setback. Fortunately, we have learned from our experience in the school system how best to deal with scandal and backlash. It is a simple two-step process:


  1. Bow to criticism.
  2. Demand more money.

One should never argue with critics; it gives the impression that one is not in charge of the facts. It is best to sorrowfully agree that no one is perfect, and in the absence of adequate funding, temptation could have overcome virtue. It is only human to be weak—so weak that more assistance will no doubt have to be provided in the future. It is the human condition—those who are denied the help required may act blindly, recklessly, violently. How sad that scandals will occur; perhaps it would have been cheaper to simply provide more money in the first place.

This process works well, but it is not perfect. We must acknowledge that there is a growing suspicion, among those who provide our moron comforts, that they are being had. They think naively that they should be able to call themselves moral if they simply refrain from hurting others. They invoke the ridiculous idea of slavery, as in: "Why should my virtue be slave to your vice?"

There is a natural temptation to dispute wayward notions with reasoned arguments. It is a temptation to be resisted at all costs. A moron who believes that reason is on his side is a defeated moron. Not reason, but morality is on our side, because we have moved it over to our side. What was once a choice to be benevolent is now a duty to be helpful. What was once a duty to be self-reliant is now a choice to be self-indulgent. We have made morality our own: it is ours to rely on in times of difficulty.

These two examples are more literate than would usually be necessary. An easy, all-purpose answer normally works just fine:

THE MORON ANSWER: I need the help.

If this answer is delivered confidently and without defensiveness, it is irresistible to Americans. To refuse to help is to confess a blackness of soul which makes anyone shudder. That is why morons should never refuse to help—although, of course, we should never actually help. We must conform to the scheme of things, in which we are the recipients.

Now that we understand the concept of moving the margin, and the basic role of morality, we can proceed to the consideration of worldly affairs and how they may be properly handled. We must begin by discussing a special kind of concept: the concept of convenience.

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