Aaron Clarey is cooler than you.
He’s an economist. He explores caves. He teaches salsa dancing. He rides a motorcycle. He collects fossils. He’s not married. He doesn’t have any kids. He’s self-employed and doesn’t answer to a boss. He lives life the way he wants to, not the way anyone else expects him to.
He’s living the dream, and with his latest book, Enjoy the Decline, he wants you to live the dream too.
Enjoy the Decline is not another hucksterish crapware title on how to make money running a network of plagiarism-laden affiliate marketing sites. It does have practical advice for living your life, but it’s philosophical at its core. Savvy Captain Capitalism readers will recognize “enjoy the decline” as Aaron’s catchphrase, which he uses to sign off many of his blog posts (at one point during In Mala Fide’s existence, I was using the French version, “Profitez de la baisse!”, as an homage to him), and this new book is an encapsulation of his life philosophy:
America is fucked, so you might as well have fun on the way down.
Aaron starts off Enjoy the Decline by stating why: the election last year pretty much confirmed that the country is irreversibly in decline. The American people took a president who has been a failure by every objective measure—running up the deficit with reckless spending while embroiling the military in more pointless wars and doing nothing to improve the economy—and gave him a second term in office. Not that a President Romney would have improved things, as the demolition of the land of the free and home of the brave has been an ongoing bipartisan project:
For instance, as the government grows larger and larger, it will crowd out more and more of the private sector. With higher taxation and more government regulation this will result in less economic opportunity for entrepreneurs, innovators, inventors, dreamers and just plain hard workers. Being one of these industrious sorts you may have dreams of starting a company, enriching yourself, or just having a successful career. But with taxation so high, regulations too restrictive, and capital so scarce, your dreams of starting a motorcycle company or inventing a new medical device is nearly impossible. The error you will make (especially men) is blaming yourself for failing to realize your dreams, when in reality it was outside of your control. It was doomed from the beginning. You do yourself no service misplacing the blame on yourself.
Enjoy the Decline takes square aim at the glut of Napoleon complex-afflicted wannabe rebels in this part of the blogosphere, regardless of their political affiliation—alt-right, MRAs, nationalists etc.—who still believe that America/the white race/men can be saved or that they’re even worth saving. With data and verve, Clarey shows that the trajectory of the past thirty years has been inexorably towards higher taxes, less freedom, crappier jobs and bigger government entitlements. What’s the point of agitating for social reform when everyone else who’s tried it has failed? What’s the point of working hard or trying to build a career when you can be fired because some HR ditz is PMSing or when more than half of your income will be confiscated to pay for LaQuisha the Teenage Mother’s WIC check?
Face it people: the American Dream is dead, and no amount of defibrillation will bring it back.
From there, Aaron bounces into the practical advice segment of Enjoy the Decline. His philosophy of life is about working as little as possible, which serves the dual purpose of giving you more free time to have fun and kick back while simultaneously starving the government of money. To this effect, he gives you a crash course in minimalism—the art of living a middle-class lifestyle on a lower-class salary—as well as coaching you on how to grab as many government freebies as possible and prepare for a SHTF scenario. Aaron also argues against saving for retirement, both because traditional retirement is basically impossible for anyone born after the year 1965 and because following his advice will effectively allow you to retire right now:
In contributing to a retirement program, essentially what you are doing is trading away your youth for old age. The problem in doing so is that when you are older you cannot enjoy life as much as you could when you were young. And since you only get one life, you have to make sure it counts, making such a transaction foolish. Making it worse though is you can really diminish, if not just outright cripple your youth as you try to save for your old age. I know many young 20-somethings who just don’t have the disposable income to afford saving for retirement. However, they feel so guilty for not contributing to a retirement program, they end up contributing anyway even though it impoverishes them today.
Much like Aaron’s previous book Worthless, Enjoy the Decline is written in a blunt yet sympathetic style, meaning it has great potential to convert the skeptical or wary. I have yet to meet Aaron in real life, but I can only assume that he is one cheery motherfucker. His prose, if not particularly flashy, conveys his arguments with a relentless, infectious sunniness that will almost make you want to quit your job right on the spot. For example, Clarey is the only guy I know who can write about euthanasia and make it seem like a real fun time.
There are people who will object to the central thesis of Enjoy the Decline. They’re the people who think that they’re still somehow obligated to serve a society that has rejected them. That slaving away at some cubicle job so they can feed a fat wife and 2.5 screaming kids is somehow noble or manly. That somehow, if we can get enough people to sign on what happens to be the Great Political Cause du jour, we can turn this country around. We call these people “losers.”
“What would happen if everyone followed your advice? The country would collapse!”
And I’m supposed to care because…? Like a battered wife crawling back to her abusive husband again and again, right-wingers maintain a misguided sense of loyalty to a country that has done nothing but screw them over. If you’re an American born after the year 1965, there is absolutely no reason for you to view this country as anything other than a convenient way to get rich. The banks are picking your pockets. The politicians are flooding your cities with illiterate third world labor and sending your sons to die in pointless wars. The media does nothing but shove anti-male, anti-white propaganda in your face 24/7. Your own parents have stolen your birthright so they can get their hemorrhoids removed for free in their old age while you sling pumpkin spice lattes for minimum wage so you can pay off the degree they told you would keep you from having to sling lattes for a living to begin with!
Why should you give a fuck whether these venal degenerates who have done nothing but lie to, cheat and steal from you your entire life live or die?
Despite what some say, Aaron isn’t advocating that you move back in your parents and spend the rest of your days playing Call of Duty and feverishly masturbating to YouPorn clips. He’s advocating that you stop expending mental energy on things that you have no control over. He’s advocating that instead of sublimating your dreams or aspirations to chase the fading likelihood of a high-paid career path and a white picket fence life in the suburbs, you pursue those aspirations now. Indeed, he devotes an entire chapter of the book on how you can become the best man you can be, in part by working out, developing a cool lifestyle and not knocking up any hood rats:
This means you have to develop a skill or a trade. This means you have to develop hobbies and interests that are not common, but still unique and interesting to you. This means you have to consider others and how you interact with them. It also means you must polish yourself, your actions, and your demeanor. You need to become well-read, well-informed and knowledgeable. And hardest of all you must develop charm and a devastating sense of humor that will turn your future wife’s knees to rubber. When you walk into the room you want to be the most interesting man in the joint, not to make all the other women insanely jealous of your wife, but your wife insanely proud of you.
There are two major problems with Enjoy the Decline. The first is the slipshod copyediting. While it’s not as bad as some of the books I’ve reviewed, Clarey’s title has more typos than it really ought to. Honestly, he should stop being a cheapass and hire a professional editor one of these days; you can get good rates on Elance. This same miserliness extends to Enjoy the Decline‘s hideously incongruent cover. What exactly does a random picture of a tree-covered cliffside have to do with enjoying the decline?
My other problem is that Clarey is a little too absolutist when it comes to the meaninglessness of careers. Sure, for most people, work is pointless, but tradesmen and small business owners, if they don’t enjoy their work, at least feel that they’re accomplishing something with it. Dr. Illusion already mentioned this in his review, but men who feel like they’re going nowhere in their current career should consider the trades. Aaron doesn’t ignore the trades entirely in Enjoy the Decline, but he glosses them over.
Still, Enjoy the Decline is a great book that, with some better editing and a more topical cover, could easily become one of the cornerstone titles of the manosphere. Just remember that the operative word is “enjoy.” Moping about the end of the world is for pansies and crybabies. In the words of George Grant:
When a man truly despairs, he does not write; he commits suicide.
Men who despair probably don’t blog either.
Click here to buy Enjoy the Decline.