Greedy Goblin

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The strike of Rand

Ayn Rand imagined how the World could be changed: all the innovative, high-performing people should go to a strike, as the remaining mediocre people could not support themselves and the M&S the society carries.

I was always wondering why this strike never took place. I mean it's a sure and safe way to change the world. You don't have to shout slogans or do anything actively, simple inactivity is enough to force the change. There are many of us who really don't like carrying all those lazy and dumb people. Why we are not on a strike?

I found the answer in Wintergrasp. As I wrote, I don't try to organize big plans anymore. I do my job with a little team, and if the others suck, well, we had our honor points. I'm on the strike of Rand. Did it improved my experience? Yes. Did it change anything? No. Did they even notice? No. They keep building their silly train and now that no one wins for them, notice only that they "haz no luck lol". Then I thought about my real life, where I preference low hours over high salary (providing pretty high $/hour). I am on the strike there too. I could make much-much more and I simply refuse to due to the punishing taxes. Did anyone noticed that I'm on the strike of Rand? No. If you'd ask my managers, they'd say "brilliant but lacks ambition".

The answer to "why we are not on the strike of Rand?" is "But we are! You just don't see us, because an extraordinary guy on strike is indistinguishable from an ordinary guy working hard". As long as there are a few extraordinary and hard working guys remains, the world operates, even if it progresses much slower than it could. To break it, every extraordinary guys must go to strike!

The second answer is trickier: Why do some choose to work despite they are leeched on? If the strike is so easy, why there are non-strikers? The answer was also in Wintergrasp. Every time we won, I launched an advertisement about the guild. It provided lot of new members, 1-2 every day. Since we did not win anymore, they stopped coming.

Doing something extraordinary (like the 5 of us winning WG while the other 20 are being farmed at the GY) gives you a voice. You can deliver your message to the people. I made lot of gold in WoW, much more than I could ever spend. I needed to keep this blog alive. No one would listen to me if I'd just say "I have 5K but easily could make more". Every punk say that.

There are always people with a message. Actually Rand was one of them, as she choose to write her ideas instead of simply slacking away. She did not take her own advice! To go to the strike of Rand one has to give up on his message. Give up on the idea what he believes strongly. If you go to a strike, you'll convince no one, ever. You will have a comfortable personal life, with little work, no hardship and so on. But everything inside you will disappear when you die. If you managed to deliver your message, it will live on. The only way to be heard is doing something extraordinary. The only way for that is carrying M&S, like I do with the cata-driving idiot in WG who will get the same VoA and bonus honor as me, despite all he did was decreasing our tenacity and promoting the horde.

Am I (and does Rand) just weak? Shall I just give up on my message and just play for fun? The question depends on "how many will follow the message". I mean I may boost several morons in WG, but with the increased publicity I can convince people to kick them from 5-mans, or leave their guilds. Rand has millions of readers. I guess it's safe to say that the good made by her message outweight the harm she made by paying more tax to the leeches. I have 4K+ readers and 160+ members in the guild. I can't be sure, but I hope that spreading my ideas caused people to stop boosting, refusing more value from them than my businesses and WG-boosting gave them.

PS: understanding this allowed me to understand the common trolling "u just make gold 2 show ur epeen lol". A social person has one and only message: "Look at me! Love me! Respect me!". No doubt that if a social looks at any extraordinary effort he can assume nothing but "he does it for popularity".

PS2: I mistyped the date of the post, that's why it did not appear in time.


Derrek said...

I think that you're theory is flawed because of: "all extraordinary guys must go on a strike". There's a low chance for it to happen. There will always be "extraordinary guys" who are not on a strike: the extremely passionate type who simply doesn't care whether or not he's being used as long as he lives a decent lifestyle, even if this life includes genetically modified foods, toxic water, etc (not that I approve them, they're hurting the society after all). Besides, your theory would need heavy, organized propaganda in order to work.

When you say "all people must" you're not being democratic anymore. Hopefully, something better than the democratic system will come, in the future. Democracy is a like a human being during childhood, give kids the freedom of choice, huh :)

Anonymous said...

Even if not for the desire to "Get their message across" a lot of high achievers will do their work simply for the internal satisfaction it gives them.

Unknown said...

Your ideas have stopped my boosting. And I'm spreading those ideas in my own little corner of the world (not just the world of warcraft).

Eaten by a Grue said...

What is the tax structure like in your country? It must be pretty heavy at upper levels of earning.

Andru said...

There's also Answer 3: Market Force.

If extraordinary people go on strike, the supply of the work they do decreases, and as such, demand being constant, whoever continues working gets paid more.

There is a point at which, even an extraordinary person on strike, will weight the confort of not working + the lofty, unmeasurable goal of not boosting M&S against the advantages he'd gain if he worked.

The more extraordinary people on strike you have, the more profitable for the strike-breakers it becomes to NOT be on strike.

Ephemeron said...

On an unrelated note, consider the following scenario:

A player named "Roflmeganfox" whispers you and offers you a deal: he'll pay you 10K gold every week and in return, you'll let him join The PUG without changing their name. Furthermore, he's willing to raise the weekly fee to 20K if you'll also let him talk about social topics in guild chat, 25K if he'll be allowed to punctuate every sentence with "lol".

Finally, he points out that you can put him on /ignore after accepting his offer, so that his nametag and messages will not bother you. Of course, other members of the PUG will suffer, but hey, they're neither paying customers nor your friends, so why should you care?

Would you take this offer or not? And why?

Dominus said...

Anytime Ayn Rand is mentioned, and lately that is more often then it used to, I have to mention that her philosophy was flawed.

The message of Atlas shrugged was not that the creative/innovators/producers should go on strike, but that business should be utterly left alone by government. Like the taxes you don't like and give as a reason for you not earning more.

Thing is we have seen Randian objectivism in practise the last decades, and like true communism, it doesn't work. Randian objectivism practised by Alan Greenspan (Chairman of the Federal Reserve until 2006) contributed much to the current economic crisis the world faces the last two years.

Pretty much nothing to do with your current topic, but as you had to involve her, I thought I just had to say this.

Anonymous said...

Why do you even care about spreading your ideas. Do you really want to spread them or do you "just" look for feedback?
- Feedback would help to correct errors in your theories.
- Spreading your ideas has nothing but social value.
Therefore you seem to be social to some degree or meant something else. (i.E. Feedback)
This is not a troll question.

John Newhouse said...

1) About the psot date: Phew, I as wondering why the post was not there and thought something bad happened at the river (that you fell into it an you mutated starting to rampage throu country!)

2) Your message went throu, at least for me. I now refuse to boost people in 5man. IF the group do not want to kick him, I simply go afk with pet on aggresive, telling them that I will still do about if not more damage than the slacker. Or I simply quit the group and go do something else during the queue cooldown.

John Newhouse said...

@Ephemeron: Personally I would not. The gold I would receive would not outweight the lose of guild members leaving, making it harder for me to raid/pvp, hindering my enjoyment of the game.

Anonymous said...

"... PS: understanding this allowed me to understand the common trolling "u just make gold 2 show ur epeen lol". A social person has one and only message: "Look at me! Love me! Respect me!". No doubt that if a social looks at any extraordinary effort he can assume nothing but "he does it for popularity"..."

Taking this idea a little further, the vast majority of people assume that everyone else looks at the world in the same way that they do. Thus, when they accuse you of only making gold in order to gain attention, this actually reveals what their own motivation would be if they were to do the same themselves. Once you realise this you can turn it to your advantage in many ways. I used it to great advantage when I was a semi-professional poker player.

This is also why it is useless to try and argue with trolls as you will never convince them that your motives may be different. They cannot conceive that there is a different way of looking at the world to their own, particularly as they are always "right".

Gevlon said...

@Derrek: it's Rand's idea, not mine. The whole post is about WHY does not work.

@Eaten by Grue: I'm already paying 60% and I'm not even in the top tax category. It's not just "tax", but mandatory health insurance, mandatory pension fund and 10K kind of shit, the point is that I get $38-40 after every $100 that my employer pays.

@Andru: completely true

@Ephemeron: The PuG is my message. The whole post is about the strike vs message. Do you think I'd give up on my message for PIXEL MONEY?

@Anonymous: I live in the world, so it's quality affects me. I want to change it to suit me more. And yes, feedback is also needed as I'm far from perfect.

SirFWALGMan said...

I really love this post. As I get older I feel like I am on strike. I used to just blaze past everyone and do a ton more work.. now I just do the norm and nobody notices and I am still a super hero even though I am on strike and could do so much more.

Matt said...

I wish all the "extraordinary" people would go on strike. Heck I think we should give them all a plane ticket out of here. Our country would be a lot better off with hard working ordinary people then the so called "extraordinary" people who crashed Wall Street in 2008, who run our corporations into the ground, who destroy the American dream, who will turn America into a former civilization.

Campitor said...

One of the reasons the intellengencia decided to give the M&S a system of benefits was to help contain the crime and mayhem that results when the M&S have no money or work to keep them busy.

The M&S will have no problem putting tremendous amounts of energy into an endevour that requires no thinking - like putting a brick to someone's head to get 20 bucks to buy a pizza or the M&S who "farm" honor in WG but lose the war.

By giving them a "boost" the government keeps them from GREATER mischief and also keeps the urban disintegration contained within the M&S neighborhood although occasionally there is some spillover. I'm not saying this was the primary motivation but it is a political consideration. Look at the news and see how those in power react when someone is murdered in a M&S neighborhood versus someone killed by an non-M&S neighborhood; the reaction is vastly different by those in power and the non-M&S.

There is no need to look further than those governments who already cannot provide benefits or boosting to the M&S. In Somalia no one gets aid and as a result they patrol up and down the african coast looking for large vessels to commandeer and people to take hostage for ransom.

In south america where many are poor they spend their time in narcotrafficking. I can never understand why they choose to do something like that versus doing something legitimate that earn them money safely and in large quantities if they only put in the same effort. Then it dawned on me - you don't have to do a lot of analysis to sell drugs; violence and a bit of daring is all that is needed. But it takes a different kind of mind to actually contemplate how to make money legally while providing a decent wage to live with.

This is why stable governments choose to boost - it keeps the status quo going. Just look how the M&S spend their govenment "boost" - they use it to perpetuate their poverty. For the non-M&S who happens to be poor - he will use the "boost" to get to a better place.

In conclusion some boosting is needed in real life otherwise their would be more chaos. This is why the Goblins at the top of the apex don't strike. And anyways - if everyone smartened up and became a Goblin then the Goblins would cease to exist. Another type of creature would have to take it's place.

Malthan said...

Gevlon I don't know how it is in your country, but in Poland most of the mandatory health insurance and other stuff like that have fixed value. So here if you make 1000$ the government takes 500$, but if you make 2000$ they take 800$ (well those number are not accurate but you get the general idea). So here working more actually makes you earn a lot more even if you go into the highest tax range.

Dylan Allard said...

So idealism is bad and wrong and it's all about practicality, but "Do you think I'd give up on my message for PIXEL MONEY?" contradicts that.
And Gev, your pixel money is the only reason this blog existed, and the only reason this message gets out.

Syl said...

That theory seems to be going the wrong way around? so a few 'excellent' people go on strike, who cares? what would really change the world is if we suddenly lost all those 'average' and hard-working and maybe not-so-excellent people that actually carry society. or maybe I don't understand who you are talking about when you mean M&S, but we can do with a few less business men and intellectuals etc. - what we cannot do without is the people at the base that fulfill all the 'basic work' that is 'too low' for the so-called excellence. so I'm afraid Rand got it all wrong?

also, where I live the upper class are called 'the leeches of society', not the other way around. there is no unlimited wealth on this world, only some privileged people taking a lot away from everyone else. not because they earned or deserve it, but because they're the ones dictating the system.

Vesoom said...

Curious that people seem to be equating "excellent" or "extraordinary" with rich. I'd be interested in hearing Gevlon's take on that, but I don't think that's what he meant. Some lucky M&S get rich, some (maybe many) extraordianry people do not become rich (Gevlon uses himself as an example). One way to become rich is to be excellent, but being in the financial elite does not equate to being excellent or extraordinary.

John Newhouse said...

@Dylan Allard: The blog is not about the PIXEL MONEY itself, but that everybody can create it with little effort if you use your brain and abuse M&S.

Also, I think this blog evolved to much more than just gold. Now, it is much more about M&S and Socials and their behavior.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that a blanket dislike or rich or successful people implies that a person has given up on becomming rich or successful.

Syl said...

that's very true, however it is often implied and that's what I understand when reading the article. this is also a page on how to make the most gold most efficiently by not being 'stupid' like others. but if that's not what is implied, then I'd like to hear the definition of excellence first too.

To me if you're using that term and then setting it off against the 'socials and slackers', you are basically defining a minority, an elite. I don't know so much about 'high-performing' (seems to be an odd choice of words), but in today's western society it's the upper class that often describes itself in such ways.
and I would very much doubt the power of 'strike' for this category.

Nikodhemus said...

Interesting insights... makes me think of how I react in similar circumstances.

At work and school, I perform at a high level for my own purpose. I do not need the prestige, I really just barely care what the people around me have to say even my managers. They tell me to do this, I do it. I do it well, they will pay me more, or at the very least continue to pay me. End of story. At school, I did what the teacher told me to do, put my best effort into doing what I thought they wanted, and got 4.0 and my classmates respect. Didn't give a crap about that, was interested in taking what the school had to offer and what I was paying for; personal gain.

In game, I really just completely ignore any and everyone even in 5-mans unless something happens that sparks my interest. I do my job, I do the very best I can/know how to do, and disregard everyone else. If the tank is failing, I adjust my tactics to compensate; healer, same thing. If i'm tanking and someone keeps pulling, I run way ahead and pull faster, or I don't taunt off of that guy and let him die. I barely even talk in instances anymore, because 'who care's'. I don't need to tell people I'm good, nor do I need to tell people how they should be playing, I just play.

ardoRic said...

I hate you. Now you made me spend 15 euros on Rand's book.

Hope it's worth it.

Logic said...

To those who say the rich should be taxed because they can afford it and that the poor need the money. More taxes= less incentive to make money= less competition in industry= higher prices= lowering of the middle class. It works this way every time. Taxes hurt every class of people... except the very upper crust who stand to profit from reduced competition (see warren buffet's recent tax me more comments). But the M&S just go "look a greedy rich guy" and want him taxed. And before I get crap for being a greedy rich guy, I am a high school student with scarcely 5k to my name.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering when you would first mention Ayn Rand in your blogg. When i read the "I define myself as a product of my thougts" comment at the bottom of a post i knew it had to be soon.

How long have you been reading Rand's books?
Will you start refering to yourself as an Objectivist instead of an anti social now?

Will there be more Rand inspired posts in the future?

Nees said...

@Campitor: I couldn't agree more. This is something which is commonly ignored by those who promote a anarchic-like system.
It's also the reason why the extraordinary people in Rand's book had to hide in a place where noone would ever find them (using fictional technology to do so).

The problem with a lot of governments, imo, is that they take the boost too far, increasing taxes to unacceptable levels. If taken too far, a boost can turn into socialism or even communism, which will both destroy society.

Anonymous said...


You're drinking the cool-aid. The people who crashed the economy were not the extraordinary people that the liberal ideology targets(see: Animal farm, kill the productive), but rather exactly those people who want to level the playing field so that the M&S can have big houses, big paychecks, and big cars.

Wall street simply securitized the unsupportable debts being rung up by irresponsible people because liberals like Barney Frank made the conscious decision, in the name of fairness, to let bad credit risks borrow money.

Those of us who didn't make bad decisions still got punished in the form of losing half our savings/investments, and now having our home values go down by 30-50%.

If you did your homework, you'd know that the warning signs were there in 1999 and that the government's policy (both parties,btw) was to keep the money flowing. The severity of the crash was proportional to how long the train was allowed to run out of control.

Duskstorm said...

@anonymous, you're not analyzing the extent effect of government supported subprime loans within the financial crisis. There were many contributing factors.

The problem I've always found with objectivism is, ironically, it's over simplification of the human condition. Plenty of intelligent people believe crazy things. Why? Because their intelligence better enables them to procure excuses and workarounds whenever evidence that is contrary to their beliefs presents itself.

Humans are emotional creatures, and while we may be able to muster up the wherewithal to temporarily adopt behavior that appears to be rational, in the end, we're going to be slaves to our emotions and belief structures.

Joseph Conrad quote: "No man ever understands quite his own artful dodges to escape from the grim shadow of self-knowledge."

In essence, those of us who claim to be the extraordinary players have a built in flaw. Whenever we make a mistake, our brain is hardwired to immediately recast the context around the mistake in a way that mitigates the feeling of it being "our fault." I've accidentally stood in the fire when I was distracting by something else. Immediately, my brain processes exactly what caused the distraction. However, when someone else stands in the fire, we immediately apply labels such as "M&S."

Objectivism as a belief system is incompatible with human nature; however, adopting objectivism is easily explainable by our innate, arrogant desire to separate and elevate ourselves above the crowd.

Anonymous said...


I concede your point. There were many factors that led to the financial mess. My issue with Matt was his argument(mostly implied) that a) it was all wall street's fault, and b) that the people responsible for the screw ups were the extraordinary people Gevlon is talking about.

Wrt Rand, in theory I Agree with most of her principals. In practice, it's not that simple. Ultimately, I think that the problem most people have is understanding that there is a difference between what you believe and how you express that belief, and very often(as in the case of religion) you see people acting in a way that is fundamentally at odds with their core principals. As you say, people rationalize any behavior they engage in, right or wrong, frequently by contextualizing it.

I often find myself at odds with people because I like a rigid order; that is, you either live by the rules, or by some standards, or you don't. It annoys me endlessly how many people act completely differently depending on the context of the moment.

Jtree said...

Very interesting post. I’m currently reading Atlas Shrugged (again), and have been thinking about WoW in the context of its story. I can‘t really apply Atlas to WoW. M&S are not Looters, and the smart/skilled players are not Prime Movers. There’s just no way in WoW to become a James Taggart or a Hank Rearden.

Good players simply can’t build organizations or industries so powerful that their actions or inactions sway the world. M&S can’t burden their betters with taxes and regulations that eat them alive. There is neither the power of Wealth nor the power of Pull to be had in WoW.

That’s not to say that we can’t take inspiration from Atlas. Hell, I pulled my own strike a year ago. I was raid lead and main tank of a 25-man raiding guild for a while. After six months of slow, arduous progression, poor attendance and cancelled raids, and a lack of improvement among the rank-and-file despite my efforts, I quit. I logged in on a Tuesday afternoon and told the officers I had suspended my account and was leaving the game.

Of course, that guild continues on, doing as well as it ever did. There’s no way, in the context of the game, that my strike could have been significant. A new raid lead was chosen, and the guild is now 11/12 in ICC25(normal). I came back to the game three months later, sever transferred, and have spent my time mostly leveling alts and making a bit of gold on the AH, and avoiding dealing with M&S as much as I can.

As for Rand herself, I don’t know that you can say that she “did not take her own advice”. The Strike was not about abandoning one’s message; John Galt was on message for the entire story. It was about giving up the unwinnable fight, and letting the looters run the course to their own destruction. In WoW, the M&S can’t destroy themselves, they just “haz no luk, lol”.

In reality, Rand never saw America reach the scenario Atlas Shrugged described. We won’t see it in WoW, either. Without quitting the game, we’ll have to settle for associating only with the like minded folks, and watch the M&S muddle along, failing only as much as the game will let them.

Unknown said...

I'd like to point out that a legacy is most definitely a Social ideal.

Unknown said...

First, I don't believe in 'legacy' as much as in evolution and genes; I'd bet that the inherent drive of most 'excellent people' would be to be admired by people, which would give them better social ties, and possibly higher-quality mates, at least on the ancestral savannah.

Laziness seems hard to explain then, though it may just be that someone does not believe that working hard is worth it, and that it is better to not take risks, or save energy, until times are better (of course, for quite some people times will never be 'good enough').

Both strategies are appropriate for specific situations, and psychologists can manipulate human and animal behaviour by tinkering with rewards; showing males an attractive female increases the spending of males on conspicious goods (and to get the money for that they'd need...), giving dogs and electric shock whatever they do makes them helpless, wimpering and 'lazy', not taking action to free themselves out of a situation they see as inescapable.

And this is one of the reasons I think Ayn Rand is wrong: excellence is like crime. Arrest criminals, and other people become criminals since the market offers an opportunity. Similarly, if excellent people go on strike, other people will see the opportunity to step up and take their places, and the formerly-excellent people would have to redouble their efforts if they'd ever hope to win back their old privileges.

Vesoom said...


Genes and evolution determine excellence, but laziness is logical?

I respectfully disagree. Thats one of the problems with evolutionary psychology. It fits some situations very well, but is difficult to wrangle it to fit others. In fact other times it can be twisted to fit either side of an arguement. It also has little to no actual prediction ability.

Flex said...

I think of it as a vector, Gevlon.

In the X component is some aspect of society in which I am on strike - at performing in WoW or the office - because I'm tired of carrying freeloaders and it's a pointless exercise after it's met the bare minimums required for survival. Perhaps this is an expression of Rand's John Galt from Atlas Shrugged.

But in the Y component is some other creative endeavor which interests me personally and which I choose to excel in in spite of the freeloaders. This I think of as Rand's Howard Roark from The Fountainhead. There is no way Roark can stop designing buildings, because it is an activity that defines him. Furthermore, he really doesn't give a flying hoot whether or not the rest of the world are freeloaders or not - he just keeps on trucking, only addressing their uncomprehending questions when they finally ask what he is doing.

I think Rand demonstrated numerous different aspects of her philosophy, and certainly one can look at any particular element as a model in itself. But if you focus on the X component you just end up outnumbered in a war of attrition with people who will quite happily fall back to banging rocks together if civilization falls apart around them.

But if a person focuses on the Y component in an area they truly love, they can't help but get something out of it, because that's finding their passion. And if their passion extends to something like writing novels - as it did (in part) for Rand - then it's a double-edged, sweet, sweet victory when the masses buy the book in which you're criticizing them...

Yaggle said...

The trick is to get the extraordinary and the hard-working on the same side. I find in the United States, the Republican party embraces the extraordinary and the Democratic party embraces the M&S and the hard-working. I don't want to be in the same group as the M&S so I want a third party or I want the Democrats to discard the M&S. The hard-working belongs on the same side as the extraordinary people because those two groups of people are good for each other, if they would just realize it.