In October 2006, I attended a Liberty Magazine conference in Las Vegas. One of the speakers was Jack Pugsley. I had never heard of him before. Jack talked about the need to focus on solutions, not on problems. He talked extensively about how different people think differently and why it is often a fruitless job trying to change them. His talk convinced me not to spend time in political action. On the surface this might seem like a small shift in how I wanted to live, but it was really a paradigm shift in terms of how I thereafter tried to perceive and interact with the world. At the core of my being, I had realized that political action and getting too invested in trying to change people was not only unproductive but indeed very corrupting to me, for it impeded my growth by making me negative and externally oriented. Jack was kind enough to send me files of his earlier writings.
I was now more interested in making lemonade from lemons rather than fight their existence. It made me far less anxious and much more positive about my personal life. I did not have to invest my emotions into whether I managed to show reason and evidence to those who believe in the cult of envy and thievery in its various forms: socialism, fascism, statism, etc. Ironically, not only the quality of my discussions with people improved, but by not being too invested and hence being relaxed, I have been much more influential in making people see reason and evidence.
Quite independent of my interactions with Jack, I started going to speeches by Rick Rule, a very successful investor, to learn about investing. I later learned that Jack had been a mentor of Rick and his wife Bonnie.
Afraid that I might be imposing myself on Jack, I kept my contacts with him minimal until one day we found common interest in our discussions on investing and precious metals. Jack, one of the most straight-forward and humble people I have known, passed away three years back, a mere couple of months before he was to speak at my Vancouver seminar Capitalism & Morality.
Jack had his own mentor and best friend. That was Jay Stuart Snelson. Interestingly, quite independent of Jack, a friend of mine gave me CDs of Jay’s lecture series, V-50. This long series of lectures runs for 48 hours. It is a simple to understand lecture, which methodically demonstrates how libertarianism and capitalism (without necessarily using those words) were natural outgrowths of an evolution of ideas that started with Isaac Newton and his peers. Human intellectual existence in that era was changing from that of faith and what can now be called superstitions to rational inquiry. In his long lectures, he puts a massive emphasis on the extraordinary importance of reason and evidence to screen our belief system, to root our perceptions in reality.
Most people likely have not heard about V-50. It is said that Andrew Galambos, who designed the course, had prohibited disclosures from his students. While Jay was not a party to that restriction, his students likely still kept their knowledge to themselves. On top of this, Jay’s views on Intellectual Property and particularly the business model he had in mind likely worked against him in subsequent years when libertarian materials increasingly started to become available almost for free and electronic downloads were effectively cost-free. After two decades of sitting inside his home when Jay’s V-50 lectures were released
for public consumption a mere few years back, his $100 CDs had a hard time selling. But needless to say, Jay was one of the very rare people who made an entrepreneurial career out of teaching about liberty and made a profit from it.
I think V-50 is one of the best and most productive 48 hours I have ever spent. Among those who were influenced by V-50 was the late-Harry Browne.
I was fortunate enough to spend a few days with Jay and his wife Nancy at their home in until a mere one day before he went to the hospital where he passed away from prolonged cancer.
Posthumously his book “Taming the Violence of Faith – Win-Win Solutions for Our World in Crisis “ was published. The book emphasizes the importance of developing human social technology, what he calls Volitional Science, to ensure that the way human society thinks and conducts itself is in tune with the technological development that has taken place. We today have nuclear bombs and very high-technology but still, as a society, wallow in irrational tribalism of nationalism and religious narrow-mindedness. We must move from existence based on faith to that of rationality, if our species is to survive.
Jay’s organization has recently released a new collection of his lectures called Human Action Principles, a course named after Ludwig von Mises‘ magnum opus. Jay called Mises his principle intellectual antecedent.
I have consumed all of these productions. If one is interested, I suggest first listening to V-50 and Human Action Principles, then reading his book, “Taming the Violence of Faith”.
They are all available here: www.jaysnelson.com