Mini-manifestos: Part 4
The collective spectrum of Doomer Optimism
We are back with Part 4 of our mini-manifesto series. Skip the introduction if you’ve read Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3 already.
The umbrella of Doomer Optimism is not one vision for the future, it is an orientation that says: we see the world as it is, and we move forward with a practical, positive vision despite the challenges.
We defined Doomer Optimism as “a collective dedicated to discovering regenerative paths forward, highlighting the people working for a better world, and connecting seekers to doers.”
To demonstrate the variety and breadth of people engaging with such a perspective, I have asked for Doomer Optimists to write mini-manifestos clearly stating the vision for the future they are working toward.
I hope this exercise will make clear the very many thoughtful people working on practical initiatives to bring about a better future. I also want to make legible the specific philosophies and toolkits being used, so that others may find what resonates with them and thereby, find their community.
Doomer Optimists don’t all have to agree with one another. In fact, many virulently disagree. It is my goal to highlight the good work people are doing, and to lift them up. I also think of our collective as a place to interrogate each other’s perspectives. With public vetting and pushback, each of our individual visions can become stronger.
I will be releasing these mini-manifestos in parts.
Part 1: Aris Roussinos, Tara Ann Thieke and Empty America
Part 2: Joe Norman and Chris Ellis
Part 3: Shaun Chamberlin, Jeff McFadden and Adam James Pollock (AJP).
In this part we will hear from Roxanne Ahern, Tucker Max, and Matthew Pirkowski.
In future manifestos we will hear from Julie Fredrickson, Chris Smaje, Anarcho-contrarian, Chris Dancy, Willow Liana, Pentti Linkola Stan, Gregory Landua, Stone Age Herbalist, Mary Harrington, Chelsey Norman, and Simone Cicero among others.
Roxanne Ahern @happyholistics
My vision for the future is economies, education, and social services, brought back to the home and small community level.
The west has become a place where families divide up into different boxes everyday to serve corporations or governments who may provide benefits or pay in exchange, but do not have any actual love or connection.
Work, a shared vision, a legacy, interdependence, these were what bound families, and even on a slightly larger scale a village or a community together, in the days of old.
Today homes have been stripped down to being a place for rest and recreation. Families and communities, because they no longer really need each other for anything other than emotional connection, are understandably very disconnected. Emotional connections are often not enough to bind people together when adversity strikes.
Is it so strange that young people often feel the pull to leave home and head into the big mysterious “out there” for meaning? And what is it they typically seek? Money, fame, travel, and other hollow pursuits our culture seems to idolize. I believe what they are really seeking is meaning, a place in which their life will matter greatly.
A family that works together toward a shared vision, a business or some sort of legacy, is bound together by something more than emotion. People respect and serve members of their family and community because it is pragmatic. It is also in their best interest to rise above petty differences and hold each other accountable and not to allow any members of the family or community to fail.
When people are taught to rely on faceless corporations or governments for their well-being there is a certain sense of personal accountability that is lost. When trying to improve an individual's circumstances, one on one mentorship is the most effective way to do this because the person receiving assistance has to be accountable to someone. And they also feel like the person investing in them cares about them that they are valuable. Accountability brings out the best in people, anonymity does not.
Close family and community ties provide humans with something, well, also human, something that governments and workplaces will never be able to simulate effectively. A person who is relied on and trusted within their own community and family has purpose, they are not just another cog. They are not easily replaced. Imagine yourself thinking you were easily replaced, versus knowing you were irreplaceable. How does the difference make you feel? When you are one of the few children of a family, or one of a few hundred people in a small community, every single person matters. Every person has their role. That is why keeping things small and relational is of great benefit to the human experience.
Globalization keeps all the unsavory ways our society is hurting the environment and enslaving people hidden. Localism keeps the means of production close, forcing people to be honest about the moral implication of any good or service. The people producing the goods or providing the services belong to the community, they will be treated as such. The pollution created has a direct impact and cannot be ignored.
The great thing about things being so obviously broken in our society (mental and physical health, environment, etc.) is that we get to fix them, and when we do, we can consciously design life that is ideal for the health and well being of humans. With any “advance” we seek to first protect human health and well being, and the environment as well because we depend on it for survival.
So bring things home. Home business. Home school. Home elder care. Make home a full human experience again. Fill the walls with meaning and purpose, not just stuff.
Follow Roxanne at her website:
What I see coming and how I am preparing
Tucker Max @tuckermax
Doomer optimism is basically a social movement in which people recognize and accept the very hard problems they see coming down the road, but still move forward with a sense of hope for what might come of it all.
On one hand, I’m a doomer because I see a lot of bad things coming. Things that are going to get really hard to deal with, and I think some very sad times are coming.
On the other hand, I’m an optimist because I think we can move through it. We can’t avoid it anymore, but I do believe we can work through it and come out of it with a better world.
And, look--I hope I’m wrong about how bad it’s going to be.
I want to be wrong.
But I don’t think I will be, unfortunately.
All that matters RIGHT NOW is knowing that war is going on, and that the basic agenda is my submission or my death. This is pretty clearly a battle between freedom and tyranny, that much is clear enough, that is info I can act on.
The priority for me now is getting ready so that my family and I, and my community—and hopefully my state, my nation, and my world—can make it through the doom and come out to the optimism on the other side.
It’s going to get ugly, and we’re not going to be able to build a great new world until this phase has played itself out.
Personally, I hate that reality but I think it’s coming.
That’s the Doomer side of things. But I’m also an optimist. I think we’re coming up on a great awakening.
Why? Because the Doomer part is going to wake people up. Eventually. The worse things get, the harder we’ll want to work to make things better, and the more the veil will be pulled back on the completely broken, corrupt and captured institutions that pretend to run America (and the world) and pretend to care.
We’re not going to fix these old, corrupt systems. We won’t fix the US university system. Or healthcare. Or Wall street. Sadly, it appears our federal government is beyond fixing at this point.
We’re going to start building (or electing) new institutions to replace them.
The awakening will spread beyond that. People will start to grow their own food. A lot of manufacturing will become small scale and far more local. People will become self-reliant. Communities will start to coalesce around new ideas and new needs.
The seeds of the golden age will get planted in this period.
This is an excerpt from an upcoming longer piece to be released on Tucker’s blog: https://www.tuckermax.com/blog/
Localism is But a Lifeboat
Matthew Pirkowski @mattpirkowski
Within this community–to the extent one might conceptualize a loosely aligned and digitally mediated network as a community–the idea of localism attracts much interest and support. For reasons ranging from the scale-specific limits of human socialization, to the ecological externalities of industrial civilization, to the desire to shield oneself and one’s loved ones from the increasingly totalitarian excesses of modernity’s centralized institutions, many conclude that we must re-conceptualize our relations to one another as a “globe of villages”, rather than a “global village”. My claim is that such thinking represents at best an evolutionary plateau, and at worst a self-terminating retreat of those who might most capably steward the pragmatic evolution of human coordinative capacity.
Hear me out: I do see value in the tenets of localism. A functional re-connection with and greater respect for natural and ecological processes? Sign me up. A focus on building communal integrity predicated upon the complexity of embodied human beings and their holistic needs, rather than a broad but shallow fabric of expedient yet otherwise indifferent economic relations? 100% necessary. A reverence for the concepts of personal resilience and pragmatic action over the worship of absolute safety and abstract credentialism? Long overdue.
And yet, by appending the “ism” to the concept of locality, we specify the local as an end in and of itself; we project an ultimate telos upon a necessary yet partial aspect of emergent human relations. Simply put: this will not work. It will not work because, fundamentally, there exists no escape from the generator function of these problems, which lies in the basic observation that there will always emerge boundaries at which preferences and needs conflict. If one looks either to history or to game theory, the notion that “localist” communities will sidestep this problem is nil. And once control begins to re-aggregate, we will find ourselves right back where we started, attempting to “solve” the same bloody problems that gave rise to the institutions of modernity with whose externalities we now grapple.
This is why–despite the numerous challenges facing humanity–I assert that foremost amongst them is the need to discover and scale more effective systems for the representation and coordination of human values and behaviors, respectively. It is only through a dramatic increase to our bottom-up representative and coordinative capacities that we might hope to eventually reduce our reliance upon the top-down coercion of centralized institutions. Failing such an adaptive leap, the benefits of localism will at best serve to re-cycle the exact same problems, and will at worst increase our short term vulnerability to geopolitical actors willing to bet the farm on totalitarian strategies for enforcing social coherence.
So let us move to the peripheries as diverse reservoirs of human potential, in search of a meaningful synthesis between old and new—but let us do so with an eye toward ultimately building and experimenting with more capable interfaces for emergent re-integration. After all: lifeboats hold a strong appeal while the ship sinks, but I wouldn’t want to live on one forever.
A longer form version of this argument can be found here: https://medium.com/hackernoon/crypto-beyond-capitalism-the-rise-of-distributed-valerism-7e3c1285a308