Fuck You Startup World
Shem Magnezi

Save Us, Entrepreneurianism!

Or how religion can sneak up on you without you noticing


I have happened to be so extremely busy with several of my special projects in the last few weeks that I haven’t had any time to write. I would therefore like to thank shem for his article snapping me out of being busy entrepreneurizing so much. Let’s take a break from careermaking and do something meaningful. Like explaining the criminally escapable obvious.

First, some context. I guess you could call me entrepreneur. Please don’t. Here comes the pitch. Some years back, I have cofounded an educational NGO focused on hosting debating competitions and rhetoric lectures, the Czech Debate Society. Our flagship event, Heart of Europe, is one of the biggest debating tournaments in the world. Recently, we’ve started hosting Erasmus+ projects with a popular Indian debating franchise, Verbattle, as the only organization in Europe to do so, hence my busi-ness.

I hope you’re getting bored already, because that I would consider a natural reaction. There’s a chance, however, that some of you reading this find it cool! and exciting! It isn’t, but the reasons run very deep, so now, allow me way more context. For starters, you should ask me why I’m doing this. Really.

Because I would start teaching rhetorics in an instant at any regular educational institution as a boring employee. Herecy, I know, and you will know way more exactly what I mean later. The thing is, I don’t want to exist to sell my ideas regardless of their actual merit, I just want to dedicate my life to the doing of good works whilst striving towards excellence. I don’t even believe I own any of my ideas, or that anyone does. Or in private ownership.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Belief, remember that. I would just get employed, if the thing that I want to be doing existed in my country as a job. Notice the qualification, it does exist in other countries in that way. The problem in my country is just how bureaucratic it is about its education, among other things. I would literally need a certification that doesn’t exist to be able to get regularly employed teaching rhetoric. What if I ruined the young with my evil ways!

Anyway, the point is that it is not a great, exciting thing that I’m an entrepreneur (damn this word is long, this article be hard work). The fact that I’m an entrepreneur is a workaround at best, and a sign of a sweeping failure of my society at a very probable worst. I mean, if I wanted to teach the youth knife juggling (which is another of my skills), I’d understand the concern, but golly gosh darn, who does NOT need to speak. Or think.

Then again, I live in the country that birthed Kafka, so, there’s that. Because I’m tired of this entrepreneurship nonsense as if I have lived a couple of lives already, and because I’m mean, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to prove to you, in no uncertain terms, that being an entrepreneur now is just like being a Marxist-Leninist ideologue back in the olden days of communist Czechoslovakia. On the surface level, the very antithesis of an entrepreneur.

To get the main idea across very quickly, it’s not what you believe and act in accordance with, it’s all about how, and why, you’re believing in it. The key question to ponder is, would the same people that are now entrepreneurs be Marxists-Leninists, had they lived in communist Czechoslovakia? A simple question. Remember, back then, there was no internet, or decent computers.

The same people could not be doing exactly the same things because of that, but the same people would still have the same dreams, hopes, and aspirations. Same ambitions and general attitude, same general goals. What is the ultimate goal of a wannabe entrepreneur, not someone who happened upon it by accident like some inventors or activists, or through an unfortunate concession like me? What is the best outcome, the Charlie Sheen level of win?

It’s the payoff, of course. It’s when you go big and sell your startup to someone for tons of money. Let’s face it, the motives are not primarily altruistic. That doesn’t mean that real entrepreneurs are pure evil, and neither were most professing Marxists-Leninists. Mostly. But if we’re honest for a second, people who want to help as their primary motivation become a nurse, or a firefighter.

To a primarily altruistic person, any reward is irrelevant, certainly beyond covering the basic needs of survival and propagation. I myself would say that my main drive is also selfish in a way, since I’m just trying to meet my high standards for me (which makes me more useful and helpful to others in a happy coincidence), but it also isn’t any material reward, or popularity, or making it into the history books. My belief comes from within.

Maybe I should clarify what Marxism-Leninism was. It’s not just Marxism, which to a significant extent is an actual economic science/philosophy, no. It was a strictly political ideology of the ruling class. Barring insanity and freak accidents, nobody actually came to believe it based on its intellectual merit. It wasn’t backed by a scientific proof, it wasn’t an old and revered tradition, it didn’t hold up to logical scrutiny. There was only one reason for believing it. Or, in most cases, to not actually believe it, but to profess it publicly and live by it.

Careerism. Remember when that used to be a bad thing? I guess that’s why it needed rebranding. Which word is essentially a synonym of this, but instead has a positive connotation, a bold and constructive sound to it? I’ll let you figure this one out. Whenever an ideology that’s patently some ol’ bullshit comes to dominate a culture like entrepreneurianism came to dominate ours, especially if it’s sudden, you actually see the old ideologues literally turn coat.

I wish there was a word that describes a person who always “believes” that which is the dominant ideology in their culture, whatever that is, but I don’t think there is one. Well, there’s sicophant, but that’s aimed at a person, or an opportunist, but that doesn’t have to have anything to do with ideology… Let me know if you happen to know one, or if you’ve made some cool one up.

Listen, or in this case read, I’m not here to knock down any good work that people who call themselves entrepreneurs have done. Good work is good work, but good work can happen in a vast variety of systemic frameworks, both economical and ideological. A lot of the professing Marxists-Leninists were cleaning up industrial pollution and planting trees way before it was cool, for free, or participating at labor intensive projects “building socialism”.

Only they were not building “socialism”, that’s of course retarded. They were building factories and infrastructure, houses to live in, that sort of thing — actual things. I, too, could teach rhetoric as an entrepreneur, or as an employee, or as the grandmaster of the lollipop guild, but it would still only be what it is, teaching of rhetoric, to the only group of people that matters in that situation, the students. Who’s paying for it, or allowing it by a decree, which in effect are the same thing, or why, is completely unimportant.

Oh those people do love to take all the credit for the actual good work that other people do, or claim ownership of ideas that very realistically they were not the first, or only, or the actual person to come up with. But those are just asshats, neither here nor there. The important perspective to look at this from is that putting things that need doing on the shoulders of “entrepreneurs” is just a backwards rationalization why it’s actually awesome that:

  • Kids fresh out of college have a very difficult time finding normal work
  • But at the same time, society doesn’t provide enough support to survive
  • While there are important things people need that society doesn’t provide

If any of these conditions were not so, there’d be no need for “entrepreneurs”.

As there indeed wasn’t up until relatively recently, in the kind of countries and societies that allow people a lot of personal liberty. Elsewhere, the useless ambitious young would be thrown into a pit, or put to the kind of work worthy of Sisyphos that you could read about in one of Kafka’s novels, or something like that. In the communist Czechoslovakia, the difference was that the state was very interested in forcing everyone to be at work constantly and to tell people what to do, and there was actual shit to do, but it still needed some doctrine.

Because if you’re a government, you can’t just tell people “Here, do this, or else!”. At least not if you want to avoid a rebellion, a sort of semi-centennial pastime of the jobless young intellectuals. Instead, you need to tell them “Don’t you want to join this super-happy-awesome-funtastic bandwagon? Come on, all the cool people are already on board! And remember, if you fuck up, it’s all your fault for sucking at train-riding.” Think about that analogy.

Apart from my educational entrepreneurial efforts that only mean a constant struggle to make ends meet since I’m not normally getting paid for a normal service to the society, I have also been making some headway in my music making efforts. As I am now actually returning to furthering my blogging ambitions, in a way. But understand this, I would just like to teach, and compose, and write, stuff which is good that people may need or enjoy.

Hosting events is a distraction from teaching. Making soundtracks is a distraction from classical composition. Blogging is a distraction from writing a book. Marketing is a major distraction from anything and everything that matters. I literally cannot be doing the things that I want to be doing, not properly, or enough, when I have to be doing them as a fluffing entrepreneur.

Whatever you feel about it, it has become a church, except you go to it every day, and it’s everywhere. Even though I have to behave as one, I have absolutely no interest in actually being an entrepreneur, just like I don’t want to be a Marxist-Leninist, a Universe People person, or a devout Seventh Day Advent Hoppist. And I’d say you shouldn’t either. Unfortunately, until the people at large start simply paying people for good work again, we’re screwed.

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