Is a stratified society necessary for the few (artist-philosophers) to thrive?

Where I’m coming from

Growing up I’ve always despised the notions of “haves” and “have nots”. Generally this came from the fact I grew up poor.

But now that I’m rich and effectively retired, I’m at a place in society which is foreign and new to me. I no longer need to “work for a living”; my entrepreneurial goals are more existential (I only work on projects which I truly care for). Even with workshops where I make most of my money; I only do workshops which are fun for me, and I do them according to the following metric:

If I did this workshop and didn’t get paid; would I still do it?

Thoughts on Mexico and Vietnam

Two of my favorite countries and places to live, travel, and work include Vietnam and Mexico. And this is the great privilege:

My dollar goes 5-10x further in these countries when compared to back home in the states.

This includes services, hotels, food, coffee, and almost everything. When I’m in these two countries, I have the realization:

No matter how hard I tried to spend my money, I can never run out of money (I earn “passive income” faster than I can spend it).

My investments back home accrue more interest than living costs (hotel/apartment and food) in Vietnam/Mexico. Which is weird; isn’t this the dream?

Where stratified societies are good (for the rich)

America is interesting and weird; we generally hate notions of aristocracy and royalty, yet we still fight for distinction and rank.

Also, even if you’re rich in America, your dollar doesn’t really go that far.

For example I know in Indonesia, you can have a live-in maid which only will cost you ~$100 USD a month (full time, for the whole month!!!) who will cook for you, clean for you, take out the trash, walk the dog, take the kids to school, etc. In America, generally speaking, it is frowned upon to have a full-time servant or maid. But in most non western countries (Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Mexico) to have (several) servants is the norm even for the middle class and upper middle class.

What are your life goals?

Now this is what I find very interesting:

You can free up all this time and effort; but towards what end?

It seems ultimately there is nothing better than creative leisure: to have the mental capacity, zen, and focus to work on creative things. To not have to worry about work or other petty duties.

Why were the ancient Greeks so productive?

Perhaps the ancient Greeks were so productive because of their army of slaves. Even Plato and Aristotle recommended that the ideal polis (city) or household economy would have several and many slaves.

And I believe all these philosophers (even the most poor philosopher Diogenes the Cynic) had 1 slave (who eventually ran away from Diogenes). Perhaps it is necessary to have servants, or other people doing the “dirty work” in order for us (rich) to maximally thrive artistically and philosophically.

Living back in the states

After around 2-3 years of living nomadically, Cindy and I are quasi-settled in Providence, Rhode Island. And we have been living a great life without any “servants” or extra labor.

What has been helpful?

  1. Living in a “minimalist apartment” (tiny apartment where we have been able to maximally simplify our life)
  2. Cooking meat in slow-cooker crockpot ($20 from Walmart). Toss the meat in the morning, and by dinner it is ready!
  3. Cheap grocery stores: We can buy meat for 99 cents a pound (pork shoulder) or cuts of beef loin for around $1.99-2USD a pound.
  4. Not owning a car: Providence is all walkable. No need to own a car — living a life WITHOUT a car as a 10x better life.

What has brought me the most joy

The greatest joy back in the states:

  1. Powerlifting at the local gym (easy 15 minute walk). Making friends at the gym– my primary social outlet.
  2. Ability to walk everywhere (at least 1 hour a day). I agree with Nassim Taleb: perhaps walking is as important as sleep.
  3. Simplified lifestyle which allows me to be less distracted in order to think deeper philosophical and artistic ideas.
  4. Ability to have access to fast wifi (at home) in order to produce much digital information (photos, text, videos) and to share quickly.

Conclusion

My simple conclusion so-far:

The best life is the maximally simple, in which you don’t even NEED extra “help” or servants. The best life allows you to focus on artistic production and philosophical thinking.

ERIC

Philosophy by KIM

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