Mini-manifestos: Part 9
The collective spectrum of Doomer Optimism
We are back with Part 9 of our mini-manifesto series. Skip the introduction if you’ve read any of the previous parts.
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
Part 5: Chris Dancy, Pentti Linkola Stan, and Julie Fredrickson
Part 6: Kathryn (@artsyhonker), Simone Cicero, and Solarchiect.
Part 7: Mary Harrington and Chris Smaje
Part 8: Willow Liana, Ali Katz, and SidewaysKoyote.
In this part we hear from the ultimates in Small Town Nationalism: Anarcho-contrarian and Neal Clark (BoiltOwl).
Hyper-mobility of people = hyper-morbidity of place.
“Cuz it’s so hard to love when you’re moving at the speed of light” -Paul Cauthen
For millennials (maybe too late?) and definitely Zoomers with a propensity to build/create, the post-COVID “frontier” is not SF, Boston, etc., but rather the hollowed-out small towns and rural villages of pre-WW2 origin. These are the true opportunity zones for real, meaningful change towards societal, economic and climate resilience.
“Placemaking” is the new hot term in periurban areas. ‘A’ for effort I guess, but you wouldn’t have to make a place if you didn’t leave a place behind, thus contributing to place-destroying. It’s cool that you are trying to build cohesion but it’s a poor substitute for the place your grandparents created for you. Knowing your local urban farmer is not nearly as satisfying as knowing where that old Jeep has been stashed in a crumbling barn untouched for 50 years because your grandfather pointed it out to you that one time.
"You have to go somewhere to be something"
"Earn your autonomy through your unique personal purchase"
"Variety is the spice of life"
All of these things mean: "you are not good enough; your place is not good enough"
If rural people display a sense of "moral impunity" it might actually be a manifestation of a legitimate grudge. And can you blame them, really? Their children and grandchildren were functionally confiscated from them.
You want to do something about the current state of affairs? Don’t vote. Move home. And convince as many of your middle-class upward-mobilized friends from high school to do the same. Move home, build generational social capital, grow/make stuff, have babies. There’s never been a better time to do this. Work remotely for Megacorp X and spend that money locally. Do your part to revitalize Main Street USA.
Curate your life around family and place, not consumerism, hero worship and distant fires. Choose the right hill to die on.
Wendell Berry said that it takes 3 generations in-place to *know* a place, and how can a place be cared for if it is not *known*? We cannot expect to care for / conserve / protect / regenerate places if we prioritize hyper mobility over rootedness.
Be from a *place*. Places have elements (ponds, fields, hills, trails) named after people long since dead. Not famous people either—normal people. Names kept alive through human succession for no good reason at all, save for the simple fact that good things shouldn’t go nameless.
I propose a Neo-Homestead Act: - A 10-year, 50% reduction in income tax if you move to one of these places after trade school or college - A 10-year, 100% reduction if one of these places is the place where you, or your parents grew up. - What else?
Heavy taxes and permit fees for construction projects on greenfield sites. Subsidies for rehabbing existing historic structures (the older and more in need of saving, the bigger the subsidy).
Tax incentives on a per-employee basis to corporations that create work-from-home opportunities for employees who fit one of the 2 original criteria above. Working for locally owned businesses is of course preferable, but this is a good intermediate step to bring earners back.
A Progressive Property Tax model, except where smart towns—if they really were smart—would tax vacation home people double, and 2nd generation (and later) home-stayers/home-comers nothing. It’s time to start calling our sons and daughters back home.
A Land Access Bill that prohibits all new single family subdivisions (especially on previous farm/timber land), and bans single-family-only zoning and mandatory minimum lot sizes. Reduces price of ag/timber land and encourages density and multi-generational housing.
How to prevent corporate land grabs in this scenario? Ban out of state land ownership? Or cap it at X acres? Same with tenant housing. Ban out of state ownership. Or heavy taxes on out of state ownership, and deep tax breaks for multigenerational arrangements.
An Affordable Child Care Act, except it’s a voucher that grandparents get for not being snow birds, and parents get for moving to/living in their hometown. Funded by heavy tax on childless careerists and snowbird 401k withdrawals.
50% reduction in income taxes if you live in the same town as your parents. 75% if in the same town as your kids. 100% if both.
Fire begets power; the powerful burn the world to keep their status. Split wood is consistent fuel. Be like the oak; resist the splitting. Hold on to your neighbors tightly. Dig your toes into your place. Be the knot-ridden piece that gets cast aside to return to the earth.
All I want in life is to rescue every decrepit old farmhouse I ever knew as a child, and fill them with all my friends and family. We'll then revive all the old mills, rescue the stone walls from the belly of the second-growth, and hold pot-luck dances in the old Grange Hall.
Take Heart Friends
by Neal J Clark
It’s funny how everyone thinks THEY’RE uniquely situated to survive a collapse.
People don’t really reckon with what the government would do in the event of collapse. It would not collapse but get stronger. Productive land would be commandeered. They wouldn’t care if you were Amish. You would still be forced to work. They wouldn’t care if you also starved.
You may not like it but the relative “health” of modern life is what allows for these micro sliced ideologies. They can afford to be indulgent of dissent.
This is only a black pill if part of your vindication depends on widespread suffering and verification of your ideological priors. REVENGE! But that is not the way my mind turns.
The profound white pill is that you may have the luxury to produce a world for you and your family that you would want to live in. I see it all the time on here. People doing just that! Prepping is FUN! Shooting is FUN! Making things is FUN!
Rediscovering and internalizing the ways of the past is FUN! Transmitting this FUN to your children is the BIG MAGIC! You do have to choose it though. Thankfully, no one is going to force you to at the point of a gun. At least not yet. Hopefully not ever!
There’s no homesteaders without homestayers! It’s not what the ESTABLISHMENT FEARS or whatever, it’s just a good recipe and one that’s worked for generations! Humility, frens, it’s all about humility.
The reason I talk so much about where I live, extol the virtues of my little town, is not as an advertisement although I know it might seem that way. It’s to get people to appreciate where they are, to feel the quotidian beauty, be humble, want to protect it!
In the end I love the hippies in my town, the normies, the chuds (I do hate the yuppies) and if I hadn’t been such a fuck up in my youth I would be a normie participating in that unconscious way they do. Alas it was not to be.
If you were born fukt like me or if you earned it, your job is to see your home clearly, to mythologize it, expand it with your love, effort and babies. I guarantee it won’t be easier anywhere else.
There is an infrastructure for this in most every small town although it may be running on fumes. Fish chowder suppers at the episcopal church, harvest dinners raising money for the fire department, Knight’s of Columbus chicken pie suppers, Bingo night, cribbage tournaments.
These things are square by design because a town needs to work for multiple generations and to be wholesome enough for the children and grandparents to participate at once.
Trivia night at the brew pub and open mic at the gentrified general store are the lib corruption of these events and are a sign of your town’s poor health. The extent you find Fish Chowder Supper at the church square is the extent to which you choose deliberate alienation. The extent to which you prefer this smug alienation.
And believe me I know this is not true for everyone. I’ll take your word for it that some places are irredeemable although I don’t know that first hand. As always I retain the privilege of preaching to the choir.
As a matter of fact, joining an actual honest to goodness choir might be the best first step you could take!