Learn about our Founder, Jay Stuart Snelson

About our Founder, Jay Stuart Snelson

For more than half a century Jay Stuart Snelson studied, thought, lectured, and wrote about freedom; personal, individual freedom.

Humans have been building societies for millennia. None have lasted. All have ultimately trended toward war, poverty, and servitude: The Rise and Fall of (fill in the blank).

All societies in history, including those now in existence, have been based on the principle of win-lose interaction, in order for one party to win, the other must lose.

Snelson envisioned a viable solution to build a sustainable society based on win-win interaction: In order for one party to win, the other must win. This is diametrically opposed to the way it has always been done.

Snelson’s seminal work on the subject is a lecture series called simply “The V-50 Lectures.”  The “V” stands for volition, the power to choose, or free will.

Through these 16 lectures, delivered and continuously refined over 14 years (1963-1977), Snelson changed the fundamental paradigm in the minds of many thousands of his students, of what our species must do to build a sustainable and prosperous civilization. His standing guarantee was unusual. “If after hearing all 16 lectures you do not agree that you got both your time’s worth and your money’s worth just tell me and your money will be refunded immediately.” Fewer than a handful ever did.

Michael Shermer, Ph.D., founder of the Skeptic Society and publisher of Skeptic Magazine stated, “I learned more in this one course than in six years of college and university courses combined. Be prepared to have your paradigms shifted and your mind blown. V-50 will do for the social sciences what Newton did for physics and Darwin did for biology.”

The V-50 lectures were developed as an outgrowth of an earlier lecture series called “Course 100” by Andrew J. Galambos, astrophysicist and innovator.

In 1962 Snelson first heard Galambos speak at a luncheon held at the Glendale Women’s Club. Intrigued by Galambos and his aim to infuse scientific epistemology into sociology, Snelson subsequently attended a longer lecture given by Galambos at a freedom symposium held in Hollywood, California, after which Snelson enrolled in Galambos’ Course 100: “Capitalism the Key to Survival.”

In 1963, upon a recommendation by Alvin Lowi, Jr., Snelson was invited to join the faculty of Galambos’ Free Enterprise Institute (FEI). During his fourteen years with FEI, from 1964 through 1977, Snelson held various academic titles including Senior Lecturer, and Professor of Volitional Science.

In 1964, Snelson persuaded Galambos that his description of the three scientific disciplines, the physical, biological, and “freedom” sciences, lacked a key element: semantic symmetry. Snelson argued that a more precise and symmetric alternative to “freedom science” is “volitional science.” Galambos accepted this idea and Course F-50 and F-201 (“F” for freedom) became Course V-50 and V-201 (“V” for volition). As part of Snelson’s successful marketing strategy for building FEI, he named his course: The V-50 Lectures, which introduced 90% of FEI students to the teachings of Galambos on the “absolute rightness” of private ownership of all property.

During his 14 year tenure, Snelson expanded FEI’s market from a few hundred to many thousands of students through his marketing venture, Volitional Science Associates, and his seminars on what he had named the “Science of Volition.”

Following his fourteen-years at FEI, Snelson founded the Institute for Human Progress in 1978, and created Optimization Theory. This theory evolved using the scientific method to determine which human action causes are necessary to create the effects of optimizing peace, prosperity, and freedom. Through his Institute, Snelson explained in his Human Action Seminars, and later his Principals of Human Action lecture series, that once true social cause-and-effect is identified and verified, for the first time in history humans have a clearly defined choice between war and peace, poverty and prosperity, servitude and freedom. Snelson’s seminars revealed that by changing false paradigms of social causality, world peace, prosperity, and freedom will follow as a natural consequence. Human paradigms will shift away from a priori faith in the efficacy of political coercion for win-lose gain, toward a posteriori confidence in the efficacy of nonpolitical, non-coercive win-win gain in all human endeavors.

Of those who have influenced Snelson’s thinking, he was most strongly influenced by the writings of Ludwig von Mises and his magnum opus on free market economics: Human Action. He also pays significant credit to Robert LeFevre and Andrew Galambos.

Following the development of Human Action Seminars, Snelson developed an entirely new model of social causality he titled Win-Win Theory. He applied the scientific method to discredit the widely accepted belief that the state’s seizure of people’s wealth is the means to prosperity, and that the confiscation of their liberty is the means to freedom. Snelson explained that adopting the principles of Win-Win Theory is the only way to attain the long-sought triumvirate of peace, prosperity and freedom throughout the world by maximizing win-win (contractual) exchanges while minimizing win-lose (coercive) exchanges in every area of human interaction.

Jay Stuart Snelson was born April 4, 1936 in Redlands, California. He graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1959 with a baccalaureate degree. Pursuing his career in communications, Snelson lectured for Coast Federal Savings and Loan Association from 1961 to 1963 on the creativity and productivity of free enterprise. During this time Snelson was also Director of the Anti-Communist Information Center, where he lectured on the unavoidable failure of political collectivism in contrast to the predictable success of free market capitalism as the prime creator of human wealth.

Jay Stuart Snelson created the V-50 Lectures. It was always a work in progress as he honed it virtually every time he gave it. Over 14 years he presented the 16 lecture series hundreds of times to audiences ranging from 20 to more than 300. The total number of graduates is many thousands. Graduates have been quoted many times that their lives were changed and improved by V-50 more than all the other schooling they experienced in life combined.

Snelson’s subsequent lectures, Human Action Seminars and Principles of Human Action were successful in attracting both alumni and newcomers to hear the improvements over previous versions.

In his later years, Snelson no longer lectured but devoted his time primarily to writing, believing that it was important to commit his ideas to a longer lasting, more far reaching medium than was possible from the podium.

He completed the body of his full-length book, Taming the Violence of Faith, in mid-2011, which was published posthumously in July, 2012. This was to be part of a much larger work encompassing his Win-Win theory, which was to provide a blueprint for building a sustainable civilization to optimize Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom while attenuating to the vanishing point War, Poverty, and Servitude.

The “V-50 Lectures”, the “Principles of Human Action”, and Taming the Violence of Faith are all available at the Sustainable Civilization Institute store.

Jay passed away from the cumulative effects of multiple myeloma in December, 2011.