I have become aware and have been following the development of several internet and 21st century subcultures that seem to have a lot of overlapping and convergent themes. To name a few of these subcultures: meta-modernism, integral consciousness, neoreaction (NrX), accelerationism, transhumanism, vaporwave, psychedelics, the Intellectual Dark Web, and crypto. I cannot speak to whether some of these subcultures have controversial elements. What I know is that all of them are deeply concerned with philosophy, politics, culture, art, and improving the world. They all seem to have similar tactics, organizing through the internet and using memes and distributed collective intelligence. They all share a deep concern that we are at a critical historical moment.
For this purpose, it doesn’t matter whether you’re more aligned with the Blue Church or the Red Religion. Rather, the overlapping patterns signify the emergence of a Violet Congregation, people who are subverting the culture wars by moving to the structural level. I am writing this article to advocate the idea that these subcultures should mutually reinforce each other and build up network effects, and ultimately facilitate a wealth transfer into fundamentally new modalities of coordinated activity. In other words, use capitalism as a means, not an end, towards human-centered forms of coordinated activity.
Capitalism is a specific subset of more generalized, spontaneous order value coordination. If this more potent sense of value can emerge and take on socially objective form, then it will facilitate a rapid, auto-catalytic exchange of ideas. What I am advocating is the re-emergence of 60’s style collective psychedelia but instead of being organized around drugs and immediate gratification, it would be organized around personal growth, responsibility, mutual trust, and entrepreneurship. Capitalism can be a tool to get to this more potent sense of value, which involves importance, meaning and community.
These are things that the market wants, but hasn’t formed an adequate vehicle for yet. There is a massive inefficiency in the global financial market, in that people want to solve and are willing to pay money for, solutions to deep structural problems like climate change, inequality, fake news, etc. But these are mostly coordination problems, and our default mode of coordination is monetary exchange. So at the end of the day, we fall back on monetary exchange and reinforce the social problems. We have to move up a level to a more potent sense of interconnected value and coordinate around that, without rejecting the underlying infrastructure of monetary coordination. By processing and working through localized signals, we can propagate healthy, restorative information through the whole network.
Last year (2017), we saw a huge wealth transfer out of tech and finance towards crypto, indicating that internet-based subcultures can have the power to fundamentally affect the larger economy. Importantly, crypto didn’t take over the entire existing Wall St. financial infrastructure. I think that crypto didn’t have the adequate decentralized social infrastructure to support it. It didn’t have the appropriate level of self-organizing collective intelligence to correspond to the technical coding structures its creators envisioned. (Plus the technical aspects needed work, too.)
So what would be an adequate decentralized social infrastructure? My sense is that it has to do with a construct that I have simply called “the Game,” or the “Metagame.” This construct basically signifies that we are all involved in complex social games, perhaps signaling games or status games, or friendship and familial bonding, but that through these social games we are attempting to achieve a certain social form, a certain kind of broader social resolution. This social form is perhaps virtual or potential, but it has practical meaning and consequence. It is objective because it is an optimal solution to a real game theoretic coordination problem.
This solution has to do with a discovering a common sense vocabulary that will allow interested parties to rapidly merge and negotiate maps; to aggregate the abundant intelligence resources of various individual perspectives into a mutually correcting social brain. Currently, the intelligence about how to set up the conditions for such a Game is distributed throughout the social continuum. There is an objective Game, but no single person has access to it or knows what it will look like when it fully emerges.
The vocabulary around the Game is a distributed language game (DLG), rather than a software-based application. It is a social game that runs on peer-to-peer interactions. It runs on the basic social constraints and conventions that probabilistically influence the path of our interactions. What I am advocating is to attempt to set up conditions for a wealth transfer from tech, finance, and crypto towards distributed language game structures, which will feed back on crypto governance structures, which reinforce the DLGs, etc.
The prototypical distributed language game is an attempt to synthesize many different domains of knowledge into a unified conceptual framework, without over-specializing or over-associating categories. The DLG is an attempt to convey a sense of value that is more urgent than money, in a way that would allow us to coordinate our activity entirely around that value. People who are working on this need to be supported monetarily so that they can spend more time on this activity, and the system can start to bootstrap itself out of techno-nihilism. The wealth transfer to DLGs would allow for a new kind of unified, creative economy.
The most impactful of these distributed language games are hyper-narratives that adequately synthesize personal experience with the objective world. There are numerous examples of people who have designed effective social games that brought about incredibly widespread collective benefits. People who are motivated by true value will begin to find analogous concepts in each others’ work, and converge on an ultimate conceptual framework, which would hypothetically never change or stay the same.
There are numerous people working towards this kind of solution right now. I won’t speak for them, but some of the people who seem to be at least moving in this direction include: Jordan Hall, who runs Deep Code, Michael Haupt, who runs the ambitious Society 4 project, the Holochain project, which has innovated a field called Xenogaming, Daniel Thorson, who hosts the Emerge podcast and has created the Pragmatic Soulcrafting framework, Justin Murphy, a political science professor who synthesizes many different emerging subcultures and philosophical ideas, and many others who I am not aware of yet. It is not far-fetched to see these trends as moving towards something like a cultural convergence, especially as a healthy, measured response to the toxic political climates in the U.S. and many other countries.
This stifling political climate is largely a result of the culture wars surrounding the effects of post-modernism. It became fashionable in the second half of the 20th century and early 21st century to “reject metanarratives,” and embrace a kind of relativism. I think that one of the main reasons for this was the extremely rapid population explosion that occurred over the last 200 years. Between 1960 and 1999 alone, the population of the world literally doubled, from 3 billion to 6 billion. And before that, between 1800 and 1960, it tripled from 1 billion to 3 billion. Of course there was a sense that no one had the real answers, the perspectives were multiplying so quickly. And they still are multiplying. But that doesn’t mean that there is no true answer to our social problems.
It is now increasingly apparent that we live in one world, we are one interdependent humanity. We know from complexity science and emergence that no one person holds the whole answer. But there is indeed an answer to our social problems. Many people have talked about a phenomenon called the Singularity. This phenomenon is hard to describe, but it usually involves human somehow merging with technology. I don’t think the optimal solution necessarily involves merging human biology with metallic technology, but the Singularity remains a potent mythical construct. It think it is instead possible that we will unlock our deepest human potential solely through the coordinated primary motivation of true value.