Len's Reviews > The Freedom Manifesto

The Freedom Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson
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Mar 31, 08

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Read in March, 2008

I read this on the heels of Tim Ferris' Four Hour Work Week and thematically they sort of go together. Except where Ferris argues that you should make a ton of money and then stop working (duh!) Hodgkinson argues not to bother with money at all. In fact, his premise seems to be it's better to go through life without anything so you won't be stressed about what you are missing.

I'll give Hodgkinson credit for being creative about his theory, but to me his premise goes too far. He seems to be "living" in some fantasy world where everything was better in the middle ages because people didn't have any money and so therefore didn't have to work hard to earn money to pay for all the crap they wanted. I think he needs to re-read his history a bit and come to terms with the fact that life was shitty back then too.

In one chapter of this book he suggests that all drugs are bullshit, especially anti-depressents. I worry about these anti-drug people who seem to think that all medical progress is bad. Hodgkinson forgets that people died of simple infections because we didn't have antibiotics! Also, as someone who has benefited from anti-depressents I take serious offense to his theory that we all just need to get over our melencholy feelings. I know the anxiety I had manifsted itself in me physically and I know the drugs have helped greatly.

On the plus side, I do agree with a lot of Hodgkinson's thoughts on what I call simplicity. But I don't think one has to go to the extreme measures he suggests to find benefits in simplicity. I think we can all find a life balance without running off to the woods to live like hermits.

One great message in the book is about finding happiness by surrounding yourself with friends. I've always found this to be true and the book inspired me to look for more ways to bring my friends together for food, drink and conversation.

Anyway, while the book does suggest some extreme measures, I just took a few nuggets out of it and will apply them to my life. I already agreed with his premise going in that simple is better, so the book reinforced many of my views and gave me some good ideas. Still, I'm not going to stop taking my cholesterol medication and move to a cabin in the woods!
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