The pieces are all there to create an entirely different world history. For the most part, we’re just too blinded by our prejudices to see the implications. For instance, almost everyone nowadays insists that participatory democracy, or social equality, can work in a small community or activist group, but cannot possibly ‘scale up’ to anything like a city, a region, or a nation-state. But the evidence before our eyes, if we choose to look at it, suggests the opposite. Egalitarian cities, even regional confederacies, are historically quite commonplace. Egalitarian families and households are not. Once the historical verdict is in, we will see that the most painful loss of human freedoms began at the small scale – the level of gender relations, age groups, and domestic servitude – the kind of relationships that contain at once the greatest intimacy and the deepest forms of structural violence. If we really want to understand how it first became acceptable for some to turn wealth into power, and for others to end up being told their needs and lives don’t count, it is here that we should look. Here too, we predict, is where the most difficult work of creating a free society will have to take place.
What is obvious at present is that the Left no longer considers its outside. The trauma that the election of Trump occasioned in so many Leftist communities could be (and was) articulated as a Cthulhic trauma: “the unthinkable has happened — now what?”
But while I will avoid dwelling too much on the what and when, I will unabashedly advocate for a particular answer to how. Thanks to virtuous cycles already gaining in power, I believe almost all effective responses to the problems and opportunities of the coming decades will emerge out of the hacker ethos, despite its apparent peripheral role today. The credentialist ethos of extensive planning and scripting towards deterministic futures will play a minor supporting role at best. Those who adopt a Promethean mindset and break smart will play an expanding role in shaping the future. Those who adopt a pastoral mindset and retreat towards tradition will play a diminishing role, in the shrinking number of economic sectors where credentialism is still the more appropriate model.