Aug 26, 2015 ยท 2 minutes

Elsewhere on Pando today, Sarah has reviewed Episode Three of “Startup U,” the reality show based on Tim Draper’s “University of Heroes.”

For me, the most shocking moment of the show is one that the programme's makers slipped in almost as an easter egg: The daily pledge that Draper’s students are forced to recite every morning, like American school children pledging allegiance to the flag or prisoners in the Philippines dancing to Thriller in the exercise yard.

Viewers were treated only to one line from the pledge before cameras cut away:

“I will promote freedom at all costs.”

Ho. Ly. Shit.

It’s hardly a stretch to imagine those same words tumbling from the mouth of George W Bush at his most evangelical, or from a fictionalised Travis Kalanick in a dystopian roman a clef about a libertarian psychopath who plots to take over the world.

“I will promote freedom,” he screamed, his words echoing around the empty warehouse. “At all costs.”

Now, thanks to Draper U “star” and new Pando reader David Kram, we have the entire text of the pledge. Certainly the freedom line is the most loony libertarian part of it, but the whole thing beggars belief. Again, this is what Draper demands his paid students chant every morning before they set to work. It’s called “The Superhero Oath.”

I will promote freedom at all costs.

I will do everything in my power to drive, build and pursue progress and change.

My brand, my network, and my reputation are paramount.

I will set positive examples for others to emulate.

I will instill good habits in myself. I will take care of myself.

I will fail and fail again until I succeed.

I will explore the world with gusto and enthusiasm.

I will treat people well.

I will make short term sacrifices for long term success.

I will pursue fairness, openness, health and fun with all that I encounter. Mostly fun.

I will keep my word.

I will try my best to make reparations for my digressions.

So far, so... these people are being groomed to murder us all.

But then come the caveats. Because no one wants to be penned in by promises to “keep my word,” “treat people well” and “pursue fairness, openness, health” should those pledges get in the way of… yunno… disruption or freedom.

And so we have…

The Black Swan Clause: I am bound to this oath unless in my travels I determine that the oath has somehow missed something important and extraordinary.

Like genocide, perhaps.

Or travelling the world, enslaving indigenous populations and forcibly converting them to Draperism...

The Evangelism Clause: I will promote and add to the ongoing success of Draper University, its students, its faculty, its administration, and its facilities. I will help prepare the next generation of Superheroes.

(That one's non-negotiable as this guy found out when he broke the pledge...

Tim had me write out his Evangelism Clause 100 times on public walls after I posted about my frustration with having personal property stolen on social media. (I understood that he felt like it might damage his reputation.) 


The Superhero Clause: I will accept the lifelong obligation to hone my Superhero powers, and apply those Superhero powers to the good of the universe.

I'm not joking. They’re going to kill us all.