How can we as man be autonomous? What does autonomy mean? And are we as autonomous as we think we are?
A while ago I made a video called the Greatest Strength of MGTOW in which I argued that it is the access to an abundance of time. I gave my opinion about how that time should be filled – basically by excelling and chasing that star in the sky – and I received some criticism because of that.
I understand the criticism; in the end it is up to you what you do with your time and not everyone seeks to excel at something. I understand that some men are so beaten down by life, by a marriage followed by divorce, by a relationship with a mentally ill women, or whatever it may be.
These men may just want one or two things: to heal and a sense of peace. They want their finances in order, they want access to their kids, they want a roof over their head and get their lives on track. Those are priorities of course.
Although I have never been married and don’t have kids, when I discovered MGTOW in 2016 I was at the beginning of a healing period myself. Or put differently: a period to sort things out.
I haven’t dated since then and when I look back I think it is the best decision I have made. I had to deal with loneliness, but not being with a woman is something that you will get used to. Slowly but surely you start to love being alone.
Once you have embraced solitude, you will not need someone in your life anymore just for the sake of being with someone.You will be very picky when it comes to the people you spend your life with. And this is not because of snobbiness.
It is not from a superior position like: hey, I am enlightened. And from this point I will only hang out with people that are enlightened too. Or perhaps: good enough for my company. No, that is not the reason. The reason is, first and foremost, that you realize that many social connections you have are coming from a place of fear. And this is the fear of ending up alone.
The truth is: we will all die alone. In the end, it doesn’t matter. And if we are connected in a spiritual way – or part of a greater whole like the spiritual masterpiece the Tao Te Ching suggests, well, than it should not matter at all if we have 500 friends on Facebook or part of this social group or that social group. We are connected anyway: we are made by dust and will return to dust and so the cycle will go on. Life is a constant continuation and we will never cease to exist in one form or another.
When you spend more time alone, you learn to be autonomous. And by autonomous I don’t mean what many people think I mean. Because a human being is never truly autonomous in relation to the outside world in my opinion.
That is why people say that they strive for autonomy, I always ask myself: what exactly are they striving for? And the second question I ask: do I want that too?
I assume that if I would ask what autonomy means for you, you might provide me with the same answers that I would come up myself: living alone, being self-employed, being unmarried, being financially independent. And yeah, in that case I have been travelling towards that concept of autonomy as well.
But, from a Taoist as well as a Stoic point of view, I also see that these kind of pros come with an opposite con and with a price. When you are self-employed for example, how independent are you truly?
My inner Taoist would say that if you are making a living of off YouTube, selling digital products and receiving donations you are still completely dependent on you audience
You may not have a boss who dictates what you should do, but, in a way, you have an audience who does. Because, in the end, if you do not produce the stuff that your audience likes, they will fire you. In other words: they will stop watching your channel and unsubscribe.
The same goes for any business: as a salesman you need customers, as a consultant you need clients. You are not autonomous at all. My inner Stoic goes even further, saying that we should have a contempt for stuff that is beyond our control (see the Enchiridion by Epictetus) because these external things are not up to us.
We should never be emotionally independent on things that we do not have control over; doing so is a recipe for disaster. Money is great but it can be taken away in a heartbeat. The same goes for status and even a healthy body.
I do not say you shouldn’t welcome the things on you life, but don’t waste too much of your life chasing them because they will never last and will not bring you lasting happiness. In this case, being autonomous based on outside circumstances is still a path to suffering, because you will not have a peace of mind if certain conditions in your life are not met.
Chances are high that you will experience a lot of stress and anxiety if you try to maintain your position of self-employment. You may want to ask yourself the following question: do you want to be self-employed because you desire to be self-employed or because you averse working for a boss?
Both are valid reasons and both are two sides of the same coin. You either want to be in that position because of desire or aversion. And this the problem according to the Stoics: your position is still an outside affair that is, in the end, not in your control.
You still highly depend on your circumstances. The same goes for living alone. Living alone is great, but not everyone is able to do it. If you live in a place where the rent is high – like a big city – and you have little money, there is a probability that you cannot afford living alone. You will have to rent a room and have roommates.
I live in a welfare state, which means that if you play your cards right you can apply for social housing, like I did when at the time I was a student, which means that you get a lot of bang for your buck.
You will be located in the lesser attractive parts of town, often with a lot of immigrants, but do I care? I look like a mediterranean dude anyway, so I blend in perfectly and, I think, the neighbourhood is fine and safe.
I live in the same place for almost 10 years now, and I love it. My apartment is not a chick magnet, but that is great: at least is keeps the gold diggers away.
And not only the gold diggers: the thieves as well. In the summer I leave the doors and windows wide open… there is nothing to get here anyway. Except the garbage and they can have that.
But still, something unfortunate can happen. Maybe the state will remove the social housing system and my rent will go up? Maybe they will decide to sell my apartment? Anything can happen.
So, let us go back to my proposed answer to the question: what exactly are you striving for when it comes to autonomy?
The answer was: living alone, being self-employed, being unmarried, being financially independent.
If we were to divide these things in the two categories in our control and not in our control, we would get the following:
In our control: being unmarried
Not in our control: being self-employed, living alone, being financially independent.
Okay, so the one thing that is in our control is being unmarried. And still, for a part, I have a bit of doubt with that one. Because in some cultures you must get married. Especially as a woman you have not really a say in some countries.
But in most places these days you decide and no one can force you. And, I would argue, that even if you must get married or are in a place of high social pressure, you have some control over it: you can refuse to go through the marriage rituals or you can commit suicide (which I would not recommend).
Or you can get married but never acknowledge it in your mind. You can be forced to be Christian by outside forces but still remain a Muslim inside, like some Muslims did during the reconquista of Spain. No one can force you what to think.
Money and status are things that you strive for. You need to get them and take effort in keeping them, while being unmarried is simply something you can refuse.
The average Western man can choose to be married, can choose to become a cuck, can choose to hand over a great deal of power over his body and possessions to a woman. But no one can force him to do it.
In his mind he can make the deliberate choice to stay away from marriage. Again, even if his surroundings encourage him to get married, he still has the power in his mind to refuse it. This decision may still come from a place of aversion, yes, but it also comes from a place of ethics.
Practically there are many things wrong with marriage. But is it really ethical to give a woman so much power of you? Are the divorce courts in your country ethical? Is the whole divorce industry ethical? If your answer to ONE of these are questions is no, then I think you have made a perfectly ethical decision not to marry.
And that is what makes the fundamental distinction between the things in your control and the things that are not in your control. The difference is the sanctuary called your mind.
If you have control over your actions, opinions and pursuit, you are truly autonomous. There is nothing wrong with going after things that are not in your control, but remember that they are temporary, unreliable and, therefore, weak.
It is like building a sandcastle on the beach: great, beautiful, but one wave and it is gone. There is nothing wrong with creating sandcastles. There is nothing wrong with getting rich. The problem is emotional independence on those things.
Non-attachment is what Taoists and Buddhists strive for – which is a form of desire as well, but at least one they can cultivate to gain control over their own minds.
Isn’t it better to invest in true strength, which is your mind? Because if you have a powerful mind, it does not matter in what position you are: you will have the ability to establish inner peace and generate joy anyway.
Well, I hope this will give you some inspiration in your MGTOW journey. I have put some good sources in the description which might be interesting for you.