Rule #5, Don't be Dependent - The Marlboro Man Paradox

Wayne McLaren, the first Marlboro Man, dying of lung cancer at 51

Individualism is participating in society for the sole purpose of furthering one's own interests. The Marlboro Man is the modern icon of individualism. He (at least one of him  anyway) died of lung cancer, I assume because he believed what he was told by those making a profit from his addiction. Philip Morris for it's part was simply furthering it's own interests by lying about the dangers of smoking - that's as individualistic as it gets. It's ironic the icon of individualism died as a result of unfettered individualism.

Americans have this image of themselves as rugged pioneers who sally forth to tame the wilderness - and get rich off it's untapped resources. The Marlboro Man is the perfect icon for this myth, a lone agent rounding up the doggies and trailing them to market. He is Chisholm, Crocker, Comstock and Rockefeller.

Our society is stuck in Manifest Destiny mode but land and natural resources (and wild cattle) free for the taking are quite gone. But like the Marlboro Man with cigarette dangling, we cling to the myth and condemn any suggestion of contributing to a greater good as socialism.

At the same time the nagging feeling that the end of our endless resources is indeed nearing and the theme is often repeated that things may not be better for our kids after all. The result - I guess, is the mass, ugly re-expression of our selfish gene at virtually any political question.

Living at the margin is selfishly individualistic if you are an individual but it could just as easily be a model for collectivists if that's your thing. Taking advantage of society's overflow seems a perfectly normal niche, after all we're omnivores, quite good at invention and utterly adaptable. 

So when I say 'don't be dependent' I'm not talking about trying to be the Marlboro Man, the poster boy of dependence, in fact exactly the opposite. Avoid dependence on the systems we all take for granted, the Just In Time delivery of stuff - food, heat, lights, transportation, entertainment, and perhaps most of all, the 9-5. The added benefit is achieving a measure of resilience in your personal economy that makes you better able to withstand the normal ups and downs of the larger economy and maybe even the turns that aren't so normal.

It's not so difficult to change...

Marlboro had a female target audience till Leo Burnett came up with the Marlboro Man Campaign and changed the brand almost overnight, probably one of the most successful ad campaigns ever...