Free the Animal: A Manifesto – Version 3.0 – Third Time’s the Charm?

Three Fridays in a row, three versions of a manifesto I began typing out on a whim, and somewhere between an hour and hour and a half later, I had a stream of consciousness that really seemed to resonate with readers. Got lots of great input in comments, plugged away at edits -- even spending perhaps 3-4 hours last Friday -- and created somewhat of a bloated monstrosity that while containing about everything I could think of, did not seem to create spark with readers, nor myself if I'm honest about it. But still I got some good input, including from this commenter, LXV. LX Van Drie is a self described geek and gamer. She emailed to offer help in editing and restructuring, and this is the result, plus a few additional edits of my own to go with my personal style. Most notably, the theses have been entirely rearranged into three topics. I think it flows nicely now, hits all my points succinctly, and integrates everything important and essential.

This should do it. I think I now have a solid foundation for expanding this into a book and hope to pound out a chapter ever few days for the next couple of months. LX has offered to help with that, too. As always, fee free to provide input in comments. I'm unlikely to post another version but I will certainly look at all input as I further develop this for something bigger.

Manifesto: A public declaration of principles and intentions.

Version 3.0

Physical Health

1. Human beings possess the ability to quickly change everything about themselves, their society, and often even important aspects of their physical environment. In the span of time humans have been on the planet, the Neolithic age is but a blink. Similarly, while it takes years, even decades, for individuals to become unhealthy and mentally numb, it will take much less time to reverse that. This is the most important thesis to internalize.

2. Humans are animals. The same forces of physiology, biology, climatology, geology, and sociology that determine health and prosperity throughout the animal kingdom apply equally to humans.

3. The key to being lean, strong, and healthy is in your head. There is no definite prescription or proscription that will work for everyone. You must craft your own diet, health and fitness paradigm from your own trial and error experience. You must learn to regulate your hunger and satiation. The burden is squarely on you. Modern institutions only want to sell you stuff. They don’t care about your belly or health. They care about their bottom line and your spending.

4. Non-human animals evolved to thrive in a great variety of environments worldwide. Humans, however, migrated across the globe in order to survive, or even with the the purpose to better thrive and prosper. From the equator to the poles, from sea level to 16,000 feet, humans have evolved to exploit the environment in which they’ve found themselves.

5. The human animal can live a long and productive life without the decline we now associate with age in modern society. It is possible to experience health, vitality, and happiness right up until the last few days, hours, and even minutes of life. Encoded in our genes is the ability to survive and thrive to the very end on a wide range of food sources.

6. Humans become obese. Non-human animals don't become obese or die unnaturally without human intervention. The pets and zoo animals under the stewardship of human animals become as debilitated as humans. This is the result of the failure to identify and implement a humanely appropriate diet and environment. Humans become stressed, depressed, unfulfilled, unproductive, dependent, sexually starved, uncompetitive, and unhappy for the same fundamental reasons.

7. Good health is natural, by definition. It’s not something that needs to be industrialized or drug-induced. By eating natural foods available to us, humans can enjoy good health and longevity. Industrialization comes with powerful advantages, and powerful disadvantages. We each have the responsibility to use the advancement of knowledge, technology and profitable implementation with great care. Technology should not separate us from or destroy the natural or man-made habitats we and the non-human animals need to live and thrive in good health.

8. Humans manipulate nature and their environment to a degree non-human animals can't and don't. The ability to "create reality” by means of marvelously, powerfully, creative human minds is a double-edged sword. Man’s manipulation of his environment can be used to create breathtaking achievements in the pursuit of survival, happiness, and prosperity…or it can be used to destroy all of those.

Mental Health

9. Our large brains desire more, far more, than mere survival. And so the human animal, by means of super intellectual capacity, division of labor, and trade, evolved the capacity to exploit and control nature to its own ends in terms of prosperity, happiness, and sexual pleasure.

10. Health increases as self-determination and independence increase. Your best must come from you. Rigid, authoritative plans and roadmaps are doomed to mediocrity, at best. So you must test and critically evaluate the effectiveness of whatever you apply toward self-improvement. You must be principled and disciplined in your thinking, because TV and the media change their messages daily toward their own ends, not yours. Striking out on your own means freeing yourself from these influences, but you’ll be left to fend for yourself without the crowd to confirm and condone your actions. That choice is yours: the easy way or the hard way, and only you can decide which will ultimately be more fulfilling.

11. The ability of humans to work against their best interests, individually and collectively, is the root cause of all unnatural problems. Unlike non-human animals, people can consciously and purposefully act against their own best interest, even to the point of suicide. Adverse human conditions from stress to ill health to suicide to general failure are tied to dishonest irrationality and rationalization. Non-human animals only concern themselves with the environment in which they find themselves. They thrive automatically. They are neither honest, dishonest, rational, irrational, moral immoral. They just do.

12. Human animals are the only animals who can be dishonest. Dishonesty in this context is purely intellectual. It is the willful failure to logically and rationally integrate and act upon data from our senses. Dishonesty can be internal to an individual, or external by collaborating with others. In society, dishonesty is the fundamental root cause of disease, failure to flourish, and early, unnatural death. Reducing and eliminating the dishonesty in our own lives and society has far reaching potential.

13. Dishonesty is an adverse consequence of “free will.” It is the product of super intelligence, owing to our ability to fake, simulate or “create” reality through wishful thinking or delusion. Apart from innocent error, dishonesty is the failure to diligently integrate sensory input from the world around us into a logical framework or hierarchy of valid knowledge and context. Ultimately, all lasting value for survival and prosperity is the product of individuals honestly dealing with the reality around them. It’s not just necessary, it’s mandatory for survival.

14. The consequences of dishonesty are unnatural disease, unhappiness, obesity, failed relationships, predation, and more. When such calamities befall non-human animals, it’s natural or environmental. Humans, on the other hand, create problems where no problems otherwise exist. Such problems are created deliberately, or happen by default. Man harming his fellow man through fraud, violence, or predation is a deliberate problem. Consequences that happen by default occur when we fail to take advantage of what we need to survive, leaving us vulnerable to injury, disease, or exploitation.

15. Like other animals, human males and females are different physiologically. Our nature that requires us to identify, choose and pursue values for our survival and happiness opens the door to sexual values not driven by reproduction. Humans have the capacity to pursue and enjoy sex for pleasure alone and to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Societal Health

16. Human animals are social beings. We collaborate to produce values, and then exchange them with others to mutual benefit. In small circles, individuals can hold each other accountable. But agricultural civilization has seen the development of large, centralized, bureaucratized, hierarchal power structures where a few dominate the rest. Even when the domination isn’t totalitarian and brutal, it’s nonetheless dishonest and fraudulent because it is unnatural, based in domination and force, and not social cooperation. The powerful few engender welcome cheerleading from their subjects. When we no longer hold each other personally accountable, those in power dishonestly sustain parasitic livelihoods through force, fraud, manipulation, promise of reward.

17. Modern humans in “first world” democratic societies are fooled into thinking that they possess power over those few at the top of the hierarchy. But in reality, trinkets like a voting ballot are much the same as lottery tickets, keno cards, slot machines and roulette wheels in terms of effectiveness and power. Conversely, we know ancient humans were individually and socially powerful, because they survived on their own, without modern technology, as social beings. Nobody voted on it.

18. A domesticated animal can exhibit shame, but will not sacrifice its well being over it. Human animals invented unearned guilt and shame, and they teach it to their offspring. It’s reinforced socially most often through religion and politics. Guilt and shame keep humans tamed and domesticated, not inclined to buck the system.

19. Religious institutions, government institutions, many in the media, many social and political activists, many large and multi-national businesses, many in the the legal profession, medical profession and ivory-tower academia use unearned guilt and shame to induce fear, to keep everyone malleable, submissive and seeking external authority. Fear is a natural part of our evolved behavioral makeup. In a primal and primitive world, fear motivated action that worked towards survival. Since then, there have arisen those who dishonestly manipulate unearned guilt and shame in order to secure an unearned livelihood.

20. Fear is what gives legs to unearned guilt and shame. Fear is natural, something we would feel even without the urging of society or external authorities. Neolithic institutions use our natures against us. Overcoming the effect of unearned guilt and shame leaves Neolithic institutions with their only other option against you: brute force.

Free The Animal is supported by readers like yourself shopping Amazon and CLICKING HERE to do so. Costs you nothing but sure helps out around here quite a lot. Always appreciated.

Comments

  1. snakeojakeo says:

    long time reader (!), first time commenter.

    richard, this is so much better, so well organized. you know what i love? that you could admit you weren’t satisfied with hard work you’d done. takes balls. yields worthwhile results!

  2. yes

  3. Right on; straightforward, elegant, succinct – beautiful.

  4. Beautiful. Excited to see what book develops from this! Get going!

  5. Another long time reader … first post from me, too.

    An excellent read that guides you through from the very first principle – taking that extra step for the manifesto into societal health is absolutely right and necessary! Once we have our personal health, our personal freedom and a free mind, what then? We need to start interacting in a society which fits us.

  6. Binny Francis says:

    I have been a reader of your blog for maybe a month now. Started reading it after watching your AHS video at vimeo site. I like the way you put in a lot of thought, energy and effort in engaging your readers. I thought, I will take the effort to overcome my reluctance to comment. So here goes:
    Version 1.0 had the raw, straight from the heart feel to it. It would still be worthwhile keeping it. Version 2.0 is neither here nor there. Version 3.0 is refined and suitable for post dinner conversations with some good wine.
    One comment on point 1: the speed with which we are able or are even changing our minds and refining our ideas is growing exponentially too. This maybe mainly due to technologies and tools like Internet, twitter and Facebook.

  7. BabyGirl says:

    Sort of long-ish….

    • Bay Area Sparky says:

      All respect, I had the opposite reaction.

      Almost ideal in length. Comprehensive yet pithy.

      There is nothing superfluous and virtually nothing left out, IMO.

  8. Justin M. says:

    Richard,

    I’ve been reading Free the Animal for months now but never before have I been so compelled to say something. This is it. This is EXACTLY what we need to understand to be healthy, happy, human animals. This is just bloody fantastic. A lot of friends and family are going to get e-mails about what I like to call “The Animal Manifesto”. I hope the book turns out to be just as well-written as this post!

  9. Like your physical-related stuff. The rest is not very well fleshed out, imo. Just my opinion, and I’m no great shakes, being honest. The stuff you touch on when you leave the area of diet/physical living are areas you haven’t worked out nearly as well and areas that others have c0vered much better and in more depth. Just my opinion.

    • PS – Best wishes and best of luck. I’m not trying to be a dick or detractor in any way…. just want to be clear on that.

      • Fair enough VW, but I would also suggest alternatively that by nature of my primary audience, they are going to be most familiar with the dietary and health aspects, less familiar with the latter parts. On the other hand, it is the latter parts I am most familiar with going back 20 years.

        Fleshing that all out is what writing the book is all about.

    • Bay Area Sparky says:

      Yet this is just a starting point…. maybe more an outline than a full-blown manifesto.

      This is the embryo, if you will.

  10. Number 19 is AWESOME. Organized religion – Neolithic mind poison and biggest trouble causer in the world there ever was .

  11. BabyGirl says:

    Richard, I was just wondering this today, since you don’t believe the Bible is true, how do you explain the Jews and the persecution they have suffered through the years?

    Also, in Scripture you have the story of how Abraham had two children. Today, in modern times, the children of those children still war with each other.

    Pretty interesting to me that that was foretold thousands of years ago, and here it is still happening:

    Genesis 16:11-12 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.

    And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.

    • Sorry, Baby Girl, but you’ll just have to work that out on your own.

      • BabyGirl says:

        I worked it out for myself. Decided I can’t ignore the true things I see.

        I just wondered how that aspect of things worked out for you.

        Warm regards,

        BG

      • How? Very simple. Everyone gets to go to hell in their own go-cart.

        Believe what you like.

      • BabyGirl says:

        Well, if I believed whatever I liked instead of what I see, I’d be in a different boat.

      • But you don’t and didn’t actually _see_ any of those points you mentioned up above. You’re just taking someone else’s word for it.

    • I am making a prophetic prediction that people will always form insular groups and fight with one another. I predict that the more certainty an individual group has that it possesses the one truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, the more ruthless it will be in stamping on other groups (who will naturally hate it more for being more ruthless: ruthless hate begets ruthless hate).

      Thousands of years from now, when my prophecy is still coming true, someone might possibly remember me as a Messiah and treat my words as some kind of absolute truth. Unfortunately, my prophecy says nothing about how to combat the problem of jealousy effectively. It just confirms both sides in their partisan hatred, giving that hatred a nice tragic backstory and making it all theatrical. It seems profound and beautiful (in a chilling way) to say that Isaac and Ishmael are still fighting. But go down to Palestine today, and what you see is not great drama: it is death, squalor, and the annihilation of everything beautiful about the human condition. Children die before they know that they are pawns in a war between their mythical ancestors. They don’t know what the heck is happening. They are just miserable, and then they are no more.

      Human misery is bigger than anything in the Bible, which fails as a panacea for humanity’s moral problems. For every person whose life improves because of biblical myths, there are at least twenty whose lives are made worse by those same myths. The problem is not the myths themselves: it is the way we read them. If I am determined to find the one and only truth and force others to accept it, I will always be creating misery (no matter how pretty the stories I tell). Until we learn to look at reality as something separate from the stories we tell about it, whether Bible stories or some other fairy tale (like the modern American dream based on Keynesian economics), we cannot really see this (and we remain caught in the Neolithic mind trap).

      Stories are harmless, until they get in the way of reality: then, they have the potential to become very harmful.

  12. Number 18 might be the most succinct and powerful thing I’ve read in a while. Thank you.

  13. Fuck dude, I’m not so sure about this whole manifesto thing. I’ve followed you for a long time – since the old honestylog days and this manifesto thing all feels a bit too preachey. It feels to me like you’re trying to say way more about the world than can be said or for that matter needs to be said. Kinda reminds me of trying to read Aynn Rand or the bible – I’ve not been able to stomach either.

    • Don’t let me discourage you though. I’ve read at least 98% of everything else you’ve ever written and had almost no cause for disagreement. Maybe I just don’t get this one. And yeah I know, it’s Ayn, not Aynn.

      • It might comfort you, fearnot, that Ayn would staunchly disagree on principle matters.

        But I only read her after I’d made most of my principle changes. Where I got that may be revealed later, but I’m only a lukewarm fan of Rand

  14. Well written. Re the points about the damage government can do and the small power that comes with voting, if you read the current interviews with Steven Pinker he outlines a potential important benefit of government compared to hunter/gatherer society’s – a big drop in violence. Here’s an interview: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/oct/15/steven-pinker-better-angels-violence-interview?mobile-redirect=false

    • Bill:

      Thanks. I read the whole thing. Unfortunately, there was no discussion of violence in the Paleo, which would probably be hard to pin down anyway, so it’s a discussion of violence in the Neolithic and I have little doubt he’s right.

      That said, a zoo is certainly safer and less violent for its animal occupants than it is in the wild. So in the end, it’s really about the trade off of freedom for relative security.

      • Richard, sorry I posted the wrong link!. I’ve pulled out the relevant part from the right link below to not waste your time:

        “Drawing on the work of the archaeologist Lawrence Keeley, Pinker recently concluded that the chance of our ancient hunter-gatherer ancestors meeting a bloody end was somewhere between 15% and 60%. In the 20th century, which included two world wars and the mass killers Stalin and Hitler, the likelihood of a European or American dying a violent death was less than 1%.”
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2011/sep/18/observer-profile-steven-pinker

        Now this does not mean I’m attacking your manifesto just that it’s an interesting perspective. As you say it could be a trade off between freedom and security and I agree who can really pin down the level of violence historically? Pinker admits as much on The Edge:

        “To be sure, any attempt to document changes in violence must be soaked in uncertainty. In much of the world, the distant past was a tree falling in the forest with no one to hear it, and, even for events in the historical record, statistics are spotty until recent periods.”
        http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pinker07/pinker07_index.html

        Having said all this you’re still on to something by identifying the costs of society from the start of agriculture and then industrialization. If you’ve not read it I’d highly recommend The Fall by Steve Taylor who has a similar view to you but from a psychological rather than a diet perspective.
        http://www.amazon.com/Fall-Insanity-Human-History-Dawning/dp/1905047207/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318834791&sr=1-1
        He uses archaeology, history, social anthropology etc.. to outline the damage to our psyche from moving to agriculture away from how we evolved in Paleo times. As Rob points out in his quick post here, Buddhism does indeed “figure this out” and according to The Fall is an early and effective philosophy to treat human misery.

        I look forward to your book!

  15. Re mental health and human misery, people have been trying to figure that one out for thousands of years, Buddhism alone is 2500 years old … I would punt on that one.

  16. How often do any of us actually even attempt to do what you have done by working through your manifesto: having rejected the framework under which you were raised, you have actually taken the time to answer for yourself (and shared with us) what you DO believe. That alone is inspiring…

    As for this version of your manifesto, I think it has been so interesting to watch the clarity evolve. 3.0 seems to combine the energy of 1.0 with the deliberateness of 2.0. I’d read the book!

  17. “Neolithic institutions” is a great way to describe external ” authority ” which wants us to bury our heads in the sand and not think for ourselves. Thinking for yourself, using reason and consistent personal experience is one of the most liberating things a person can do. This is the point that we all AWAKEN. The last thing “authority” wants is for us to view them as useless. The Internet is the greatest thing we have to expose this and make people aware. The very fast form of free speech there is.

    We survived all this time without the “experts” to guide us. LOL !

    Numbers 19 and 20 are spectacular points.

    • “The last thing “authority” wants is for us to view them as useless.”

      Or, as I like to say: what if they held an election and nobody showed up?

  18. This is really *superlative* Richard, thanks for sharing.

    Also, just because I’m a grammar nazi and actually notice this small bs, on number 12 you wrote “In society, dishonesty it is the . . .”

    Anyway, 18 and 10 especially resonated with me and I will definitely be sending this to my family members when I’m done here. Maybe they will have some epiphanies ha ha.

  19. I have been going down a rabbit hole personally. Blowing up frameworks and what not. I spent some time here: and then visited your updated list.

    Everything works together for those that love the void.

Trackbacks

  1. ~pjgh » Blog Archive » Entering the Mesolithic? says:

    [...] Speaking of society, have you seen Richard Nikoley’s manifesto over at Free the Animal? http://freetheanimal.com/2011/10/free-the-animal-a-manifesto-version-30-third-times-the-charm.html [...]

  2. [...] I hold in my hands his book, which numbers 469 pages before the references start…and I only have it in my hands for two reasons. 1) I accidentally sold it amongst a stack of books to the used bookstore in Arnold, CA; and on a subsequent visit, seeing it on the shelves, bought it back, and 2) I was up at the cabin this last weekend and I retrieved it, because it figures importantly into my manifesto. [...]