I write a mini-festo for the Doomer Optimism community. I am sharing it here today as well as gosh darn it I wrote it so it counts.
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.