Mini-manifestos: Part 5
The collective spectrum of Doomer Optimism
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)
Part 4: Roxanne Ahern, Tucker Max, and Matthew Pirkowski.
In this part we hear from Chris Dancy, Pentti Linkola Stan, and Julie Fredrickson
In future manifestos we will hear from Chris Smaje, Solarchiect, Anarcho-contrarian, Willow Liana, Gregory Landua, Stone Age Herbalist, Mary Harrington, Chelsey Norman, and Simone Cicero among others.
THE TECHNOLOGICAL DOOMER OPTIMISM MANIFESTO
My journey to Mindful Cyborg
Chris Dancy @chrisdancy
If you google "Most Connected," my name comes right up. There are videos, TV shows, books, academic studies, TED Talks, and art exhibitions dedicated to a self-help project I started in 2007 regarding my "digital life."
You know, "digital life," the one that people say is corrupting you, your loved ones, and society. "Digital life" usually starts with the smartphone, where the embodiment of all our collective issues from, institutional mistrust to suicide, can be found. Or social media, where we can go and be radicalized and have our privacy stripped away.
Yet, I don't believe any of this, never have, and never will. In 2007, I started on my quest, a hyper-personal version of doomer optimism - technology edition. My goal was to make myself as "smart" about my life as my smartphone and cloud-based tools. I succeeded; my existence was transformed.
Welcome to the technological doomer optimist manifesto.
I've joked in presentations for years that I'm a time traveler, and between you and me, I'm here to tell you I'm not kidding.
Time itself is a biological construct that syncs our bodies to the environment through circadian rhythms. Layered on top of our bodies' response to light and behavior, society's systems and expectations are added. Then finally, your symbiotic relationship with the time machine in your pocket.
If you feel out of sorts, it's not you; it's your time.
Our daily habits have a way of snowballing into our future life. It's easy to see when you look at great athletes and how they manifest their futures by creating habits that move them toward goals.
Yet, when you look for other examples of routines becoming a reality, they are usually tough to find. Rarely do we see our old age when we look at a 401K balance or dinner when we glance at a package of seeds.
Yet like everything in our lives, these tools are time machines.
To get started, look at everything and everyone (yes, people too) as vessels to your future and eventual death. Embrace a level of mortality in how you love and interact with every piece of your life.
Even in death, you can design your future by choosing how you love the people around you, for they are your developing voice when you are no longer heard.
What does technology have to do with doomer optimism? Hopefully, everything because we see the localism needed starts with our own tools. The commitment to our homestead starts with our own devices. Our future communities are more than people we follow, but the ideas we consume.
You can read more How To tips from Chris here: https://www.chrisdancy.com/howto
Deep Ecology: Love for the Loveless
Pentti Linkola Stan @organlessbodies
It seems natural for most humans to regard life in terms of its importance to our own species, whether that value be direct or abstract. However, we must abandon this shallow view of life should humans hope to survive in a meaningful manner. The web of life is connected, each creature intrinsically valuable to the existence of another. Man must love all those creatures he regards as grotesque should the natural order be maintained.
Take the larvae of the caddisfly, stonefly or dragonfly, dark in color and adorned with all manner of spindly legs and alien features. Most would pull back, repulsed, at seeing them, and so their plight has gone all but unnoticed. Caddisfly larvae in Norway are notably constructing shells from microplastics, which ultimately end up in the stomachs of fish and humans, and even in our embryos. The larvae of the other aforementioned species are dying en mass due to the presence of nitrates from chemical fertilizers. Those who do not love the stonefly feel no remorse, yet this shortage of macroinvertebrates directly impacts the number of salmon on our plate. There is no creature of more or less value, for each impacts us in innumerable and often unnoticed manners.
Yet it should not take this roundabout assertion of “value” to these creatures for them to find love in our hearts, for a mere meaningful examination of the peppered moth or Madagascan tenrec should illuminate the mass of wonder associated with the unique and unimaginable biology of every creature. Perhaps the tsetse flies, who nurse their young on a breastmilk-like compound and rear them from a primitive placenta would be less reviled should each person examine the intricacies of their K-selected parenting. Not only do I believe that this love of life is purer than any argument of value, I believe it is necessary, for certain creatures will always be seen as less productive to the economy or to society due to this pervasive Abrahamic mindset. Instead, love must stem from a true understanding of one's place in the natural order of things, from the beauty of biodiversity alone.
To do this, I believe man must abandon his egotistical tendency to lord over nature and use it for his benefit, but instead embrace the attitudes of early animistic cultures. There is no right which man is given to lord over beasts, he does not determine the worth of the witchetty grub or of the poison frog. Instead, relationships must stem from an understanding of animals, and even plants, as of an equal cosmic value. I believe, too, that this must be done out of love, for there is no greater motivator of man than that emotion which pervades our societies. A genuine love is in opposition to the ego, and we can understand these creatures only when we love them unconditionally, as one more piece of an ecstatic tapestry of life which drapes across this planet we are so lucky to call our home.
If you do not fuck around, you never find out
Julie Frederickson @AlmostMedia
I come from hippie utopian stock. My parents, both working class union types, moved us to the promised land of Silicon Valley right before I was born. The family lore concludes that my father had no job on the day I came into the world as he was pitching a startup. My parents believed in the promise of computing, and eventually, the internet, to connect free thinking humans in a culture of collaboration and self-sufficiency. The do-it-yourself ethos of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog combined with a heady blend of technical opportunity and growth that is well chronicled in What The Dormouse Said. This gives you a sense of cultural milieu in which I was raised. The sixties had long given way to the Reagan revolution and the rise of Clinton’s neoliberalism when I came on the scene, but I never forgot my roots. I invest in startups to continue that legacy of autonomy and freedom at my own fund chaotic.capital.
“Remember what the dormouse said: feed your head.”
For me doomer optimism is the continued braiding of those cultural strands. Each one of us is capable of connecting to each other and enabling ourselves, individually and collectively, to lead the life of flourishing and growth we seek. We want tools and information that feed our head but also crucially our heart. The key insight that these very different culture strains, hippie and technology, have shown us, is that individual empowerment is what ultimately connects us to our tribes.
How does it work? Well, natural law is pretty simple. The laws of thermodynamics are clear. “If you do not fuck around, you never find out.” As we cede autonomy to others, we cede our capacity to fuck around. The inexorable logic of that, means we also cede our capacity to find out. Without the natural chaos of energetic entropy pushing man against nature, we get stuck. We stagnate in the local maxima.
And we long to find out. We want to find our communities, our families, our capacities, and our passions. That is how we build. That is how we invent. That is how we solve our problems. Humans are capable of huge creative leaps. Massive shifts in capacity have risen in a blink of an eye. We can solve our problems, and indeed have been doing so, for millennia. But the only way we do is if we fuck around. Otherwise we will never find out what we are capable of overcoming. No matter how dire our problems we can rely on the deep laws of energy. So don’t be afraid, go and fuck around. We are counting on you to find out.