I’ve long dreamt of an outside construct that will make me my best self without my lazy part having a say. And a lot of my routines are just that - a construct to make me behave in a way that benefits me in the long term. I’ve even sometimes dreamt of teaming up and living with like-minded people: helping and pushing each other further.
Well, The Zvi has written a huge piece discussing the Dragon Army, and now I know that rationalist group houses exist and have been discussed in length.
What is Dragon Army [Barracks]? It’s a high-commitment, high-standards, high-investment group house model with centralized leadership and an up-or-out participation norm, designed to a) improve its members and b) actually accomplish medium-to-large scale tasks requiring long-term coordination. Tongue-in-cheek referred to as the “fascist/authoritarian take on rationalist housing,” which has no doubt contributed to my being vulnerable to strawmanning but was nevertheless the correct joke to be making, lest people misunderstand what they were signing up for.
Quote from the original post about Dragon Army by Duncan Sabien.
If you plan on doing something like that near Moscow, please call me up, I am better than average with discipline and no novice to levelling up in groups.
I particularly liked Zvi’s thought that self-improvement shouldn’t be a goal in itself, but should have some other, primary goal to which self-improvement is an auxiliary:
The problem is that in my experience, your real terminal goal can be self-improvement all you like, but unless you choose a different primary goal and work towards that, you won’t self-improve all that much. The way you get better is because you need to get better to do a thing. Otherwise it’s all, well, let’s let Duncan’s hero Tyler Durden explain:
This is importantly true (although in a literal sense it is obviously false), and seems like the most obvious point of failure. Another is choosing Tyler’s solution to this problem. Don’t do that either.
So yes, do all six of these things and have all three of these goals, but don’t think that down near the bottom of your list is doing a few concrete things every now and then. Everyone needs to have the thing, and have the thing be central and important to them, whatever the thing may be, and that person should then judge their success or failure on that basis, and the group also needs a big thing. Yes, we will also evaluate whether we hit the self-improvement marks, but on their own they simply do not cut it. Credit to my wife Laura Baur for making this point very clear and explicit to me, so that I realized its importance. Which is very high.