Skip to comments."Starving The Monkeys" book review. If you're an Ayn Rand fan...
Posted on 01/30/2010 6:29:11 AM PST by Travis McGee
Starving the Monkeys: Fight Back Smarter is about the struggle of the creative, productive members of society against the parasitic masses that author Tom Baugh refers to as the monkey collective. Monkeys are the looters and moochers who essentially dine from the plates of the producers through the tax and legal structures they have put in place. Baugh contends that the vast army of collectivist monkeys would literally starve if left to their own devices.
Starving the Monkeys refers to Baughs recommendation that the producers strictly limit the monkey diet, by withholding their productive efforts on behalf of the collective. Not by refusing to pay taxes, but by temporarily throttling back on their productive output, and thereby hastening the fall of the monkey collective, which is even now teetering on the brink. He advises retreating into a personal Galts Gulch until after the impending financial and social collapse, and then emerging with ones intellectual and productive tools intact. In the former Soviet Union, beleaguered individualists referred to this as internal emigration. Whether this strategy will be taken up by enough producers to have an effect on the collective remains to be seen, but it reflects the Atlas Shrugged meme that is echoing loudly today, as employers hold off on new hiring for just one example.
Although this is a book designed to help you survive what may be our imminent financial Armageddon, you wont find recommendations on long-term food storage or home defense firearms. Other recent titles cover that ground, such as Fernando Aguirres The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse, and John Rawless How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It. According to Baugh, by far the most critical survival weapon is the one between your ears. This book is all about honing your mental edge to razor sharpness for the purpose of surviving the collapse intact.
Starving the Monkeys is not an easy read. Its extremely challenging, not only to political correctness but to many popular dogmas, including some religious ones. No sacred cow or ox is left ungored. I guarantee that thin-skinned feminists will be highly offended. If you have a low tolerance for seeing your pet beliefs or heroes under attack, this is not the book for you. For example, if you think that Lincoln was our greatest president, you will certainly not enjoy this book, to say the least. I picked the ingrained American devotion to Honest Abe as one example among countless others. Be warned. Baugh comes after numerous cultural and social beliefs and traditions with a steel crowbar, to pry them apart and analyze their weaknesses as he sees them. In fairness, he turns the same critical analysis on himself.
So why should you read such a problematic and often uncomfortable book, by a consistently prickly and acerbic (but always hilarious) writer? Simple. For the equally consistent brilliance of thought displayed. You may disagree vehemently with many of Baughs suppositions (as I certainly did), but you cannot deny the breadth and power of his thinking. The single chapter titled The Idea Factory is worth the entire price of the book, and so are several others.
It’s an aggravating book and can be hard plowing, but it’s so thought provoking that it’s well worth reading.
I finished the book this weekend. Wow!
Tom Baugh can be at once incredibly perceptive, and annoyingly ascerbic, but I found I could easily excuse the latter in order to gain the insight from the former. Once you get what he’s trying to do, you start to appreciate that he’s not pulling punches, nor worried about offending your sensibilities, and all of it helps to prove a couple of points along the way. If it gets in the way for you, think of him as the Dr. House of philosophy.
With his man/monkey analogy, he is able to illustrate many of the problems in our country as we hurtle down the ever steeper slope away from our founding principles. Some of these problems are obvious and well-discussed here on FR. Others are problems that you knew existed, gnawing at the back of your mind, but couldn’t quite identify. Tom makes these clear as well. Even though I agreed with much of Tom’s philosophy going in, I found many of my preconceptions challenged, and I have changed my mind on several positions I formerly held, and I don’t do that easily. You may come to think that his man/monkey construct is less an analogy, and more a semantic slight of hand to get you to think outside your cage. Or not.
I’ll not give away the ending, such as it is, which in true Baugh fashion, is presented with “some assembly required”, or better, “some of your own thought required”. All I will say is that, even if you don’t agree with most of what he says, and yet still ignore his warnings and make it through, you can’t find much fault with the bulk of his recommendations for self-improvement. Those alone are worth the read.
The print is a bit tiny for older eyes, making the book look shorter than it is until you start into it. There are many referenced works which the author expects you to read or have read - some of which are necessary to fully understand the following sections of the book. These are all on the website if you want to pre-read any of them.
This thread is also on the site as a reference.
I found this book to be life changing. Having spent most of my life shovelling bananas at monkeys, I came to some of the same conclusions, and made some progress in the direction Tom suggests. He took me the rest of the way in comprehension and illuminated a good part of the path ahead for me. Knowing in advance, I’d have paid many times more for his book than he charged, and how often can you say that?
That’s a great review, and I agree with you wholeheartedly.
Have you posted it on Amazon?
I can tell you, fresh Amazon reviews are a big help and also a morale booster for an author.
Thanks for your kind words.
I’ve never posted a review on Amazon, but I’ll look into it. Do you have to have bought the book through them? I got mine off Tom’s site.
If you ever bought anything via Amazon and have an account existing there, you can post a review. Even if you didn’t buy that book or product from Amazon.
Good deal. We riters got to stick together.
I think that his criticism is less about religion than it is about the Ponzi scheme that too many of its imnterpreters turn it into for fun and prophet. His advice is consistent: cut out the middleman. My advice is to seek spiritual sovereignty rather than spitirual slavery.
The three-legged stool of understanding is held up by history, languages, and mathematics. Equipped with these three you can learn anything you want to learn. But if you lack any one of them you are just another ignorant peasant with dung on your boots.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love
I heard the same echos.
BTW, my wife’s mother’s maiden name was Heinlein, and she was a niece of Robert.
Her father flew P-38 Lightnings in WW2, among other aircraft.
I just ordered it.
Some of it actually pissed me off, but the larger message is pretty brilliant.
Finished the book. I hope a review isn’t too revealing.
1. I was more offended by his repeated appeals to stop reading because I would be offended than by what he thought was offensive. About 2/3rds of those remarks should be removed - if I already bought the book, I don’t need to be reversed-psyched to keep reading.
I’m a religious person, but that doesn’t mean I’m so tin-eared that I can’t read/hear a different POV. If him simply saying a few things that I disagree with about religion were enough to make me rebel, then I’d be a danged liberal, wouldn’t I?
2. He’s too hard on Dave Ramsey. I understand Ramsey’s point of view - and I’m a fan. I understand Baugh’s POV as well. I think a happy medium between the two would be Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Dave is against all debt, but his focus is eliminating consumer debt. Tom is for debt as a hedge against hyperinflation, but a focus on acquiring things for survival is different than being over-extended on credit for fluff.
Dave Ramsey’s audience understands that his total attack on debt is in context of putting yourself in a position to capitalize on your ability to profit from your own work. In that, Baugh should agree - stop paying your credit masters and you stop feeding monkeys.
3. I was hoping that there would be a large section of concrete actions to take to starve the monkeys. I think it’s more a philosophical than practical guide. (I guess a real individualist can learn and move to the practical by themselves and that is part of the point.)
Things I liked:
1. The story of his arrest does put into clear context the way the system is geared against the individual.
2. I love the tweak on “subconscious” and grammar.
3. Epilogue 2, “Well, well, well. I guess we just learned something about ourselves, didn’t we?” Yes.
4. The book does spell out the real battle lines very well. Worth it to read for that alone.
Overall, it’s a good read. I recommend it and will likely buy a few copies for people I know that will get something from it.
Reading it. Interesting.
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