Civil Society will play an increasingly important role in our future. Movements are a leading indicator of the role these new "Civil Society groups" will play. Therefore, I try to "track" the different emerging movements, e.g.: Effective Altruism, #MeToo, #BLM, Intellectual Dark Web, #MarchForOurLives, Fridays For Future, the Free Software Movement, blockchain, RadicalXChange, etc.
We can bucket these into a couple categories based around:
- Identity: #MeToo, #BLM (and IDW as a "pushback")
- Parseltongues: #MarchForOurLives, Fridays For Future
- Tech: Free Software Movement, blockchain, RadicalXChange
- ...Effective Altruism? :)
I like to conceptualize of these movements from a "map" perspective, e.g. generating the one below from Memetic Tribes 2.0.
(Also see this SlateStarCodex map, this Ribbonfarm map, or the wiki page on New Social Movements.)
I recently explored the 1st RadicalXChange event. Check out the tweetstorm below for my real-time thoughts on the event:
Upon reflection, here are some of my top takeaways from the event:
- Coherent Pluralism / metamodernism / postrationalism is hard. i.e. It's difficult to be both "plural" in your values while still having a "coherent" vision. All things considered, RadicalXChange toed this line quite well. It was pretty cool to see folks from a variety of lenses: social justice, neoliberalism, cities, blockchain, etc. Still, I wish there were more non-blockchain folks there (~50% of the folks were blockchain-y, imo).
- All movements need to have a funding (and meme) mechanism. RadicalXChange is bootstrapped from the blockchain ecosystem. In this way, you can think of RadicalXChange as a variant on all of the blockchain conferences. There's lots of money and latent energy in the crypto ecosystem. RadicalXChange is a proto-example of "harnessing" this energy/capital and directing it towards more philosophical aims. (What are some other proto-examples of this? Perhaps some crypto-libertarian stuff? Maybe Blockchains LLC?) See Vitalik's talk at this event for more on this overlap. Also see Crypto is Networked Nonviolent Protest.
- From the perspective of Lessig's pathetic dot, RadicalXChange was super focused on "markets" (and a bit on code). It wasn't really focused on law or norms. In essence, this is Joe Edelman's critique here: RadicalXChange focuses too much on the "social choice" frame at the detriment of the "information aggregation" frame. In other words, RxC is too focused on market systems instead of human systems.
- I mostly agree with Joe's critique here. However, I believe this neglect is inherent to how movements acquire capital. Code/markets are quite good at "acquiring" capital. Law/norms less so. e.g. G MAFIA can fund FAT*. Great Ape-Snake War cannot fund anything. For norms/human systems to have more success in the competitive evolutionary landscape of New Social Movements, it needs a better self-funding mechanism. (Or needs to compete on information alone.)
- Btw, you can look at the movements at the top of this post to understand how each movement competes. In general, the hashtag-based movements compete on info, the youth-based movements compete on...labor (?), and the tech-based movements compete on capital. (e.g. Effective Altruism used earning-to-give to bootstrap into the impact-based philanthropic funding ecosystem.)
- Finally, check out my presentation for "Can Philanthropy Be Empowering?", which explores this question (where does the capital come from?) by advocating for an Effective Altruist style self-tax that is distributed through a quadratic funding mechanism for both the funds themselves and the matching treasury.
To conclude: I'll be interested to see how RadicalXChange evolves over time, especially on how they balance Coherent Pluralism, incorporate a human systems approach, and fund the movement. We'll check back in a year!
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