Designing social movements

Synthetic biology for utopian egregores

On the theory of designing the precepts of self-replicating social groups. Important in “community stewardship”. Probably uses tools from institutions, social norms etc.

To discuss: Bay area rationalists, the Marrickville Warehouse Alliance, weirdo Honduran charter cities, every Schelling model, (de-)radicalization pathways…

Set up

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As community

See community maintenance.

On social norms

See social norms.

On governance and accountability

See community governance.

On non-monetary economies

Governance of community as governance of (some real or imagined) commons.

Status within

See status for now. Later return to the idea of multiple hierarchies in The Melancholy of Subculture Society footnotes.

OODA loops in movements




Why Woke Organizations All Sound the Same: is a criticism of social justice agendas, but it is also a laundry list of theory-of-change ideas for persuading institutions to implement your preferred agenda, whether that agenda be socially just or socially unjust, or not particularly concerned with justice.

Within wider society

Fascinating parallels in outgroups and mobilisation against other outgroups: Katie J. M. Baker on a lady manosphere analogue: Mumsnet

The more I learned about Mumsnet, the more the forum reminded me of my past reporting on the ways men are radicalized by the toxic online “manosphere,” where pick-up artists (PUAs) and men’s rights activists (MRAs) recruit followers by exploiting real fears (such as economic anxiety) and blaming marginalized outgroups (women, people of color, Jews) for societal failures. As people get drawn into these communities, they become obsessed with a misguided sense of victimization and start to focus single-mindedly on their newfound worldview.

It seemed to me that was exactly what was happening on Mumsnet: some of these newly “gender critical” Mumsnetters were relatively privileged women who had never felt marginalized until they gave birth and came to feel isolated in their nuclear households and (rightfully!) outraged at the lack of support for mothers in the U.K. They turned to Mumsnet for solidarity, and somehow became fixated on trans women in the process

I take issue with some of the analyses in this article, of both Mumsnet and the MRAs, but the general thesis about the similarity in recruiting, onboarding and mobilising dynamics is interesting.

See also emancipating my tribe.

Movements For Good People

Over at institutions for angels I muse about movement design that presupposes its members are good.

Recruitment bias

David Rosenthal on Cryptocurrencies argues

Libertarianism’s attraction is based on ignoring externalities, and cryptocurrencies are no exception.

Zing. All ideologies face a disjunct between of what their core theorists advocate and what their recruiting implicitly advocates in terms of who gets lured in. The best version of communism is probably the one that wishes that lazy people who want free stuff would not join up and advocate it. And principled libertarian theorists presumably don’t want advocates who only want the freedom to pollute and shoot things all day long. And yet, ultimately the movement may be dominated by the worst version of itself. Libertarianism has this to such an extreme though. What can we learn from that?

Moral cultures

There is a provocative article, Campbell and Manning (2014), which argues about microaggression in terms of moral cultures of, in order, Honor, Dignity, and Victimhood (Crib sheet). Tanner Greer likes that take too. It is an interesting perspective, although not mine. I do like the notion of moral cultures, though. What is just?

Hygiene and inner circles

Hypocrisy, mottes, baileys, inter-cultural etiquette.

Adam Elkus, Vampire-Hunting As A Vocation.


Fascinating analysis by a conservative partisan, Why is Everything Liberal?.

Fascinating business-behavioural portfolio: Francesca Gino. (Update: did not pan out; see Data Falsificada (Part 1): “Clusterfake”).

The Commons Library includes 1000+ educational resources in a range of formats. Topics include campaign strategy, community organising, working effectively in groups, justice and diversity, creative activism, and much more.


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