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Towards a world more curious and kind

A conversation with Joe Lightfoot on The Lightfoot Podcast.

3 min read

When the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic hit home in early 2019, I thought society might collapse. We are due for a civilisational crisis, and have been teetering, for some time. And even if the chances of societal collapse were relatively slim; I thought it prudent to hedge.

And so: I became a ‘prepper’.

But hoho, no: I didn’t go out hoarding toilet paper, pasta, hand sanitiser and ammunition. Instead, I did my best to cultivate that which philosophers might call ‘communitas’—I stocked up on social capital.

At the local level, the dangerlam and I did our best to ensure everyone in our apartment block felt connected and not alone. We shared contact details, established an informal online social group, and ensured that no one ran low on food or supplies. This group is still active, and the Gemeinschaft of our little local community continues to increase.

An aside: the metamodern political philosopher Hanzi Freinacht writes eloquently of what he calls ‘Gemeinschaft Politics’. I found this excerpt to be a warm beacon for the kind of world I aspire to cultivate and co-create.

“Gemeinschaft Politics is about human relationships, including: those between residents in local comm­unities, cultural and sports act­ivities and other forms of volunteering in civil society, how well community builders and local leaders are treated and supported, how class dist­inc­tions play out, relations between different ethnic groups, the inte­gration of immi­grants, relations at work, gen­der relations and sexual and rom­antic inter­plays, fam­ily relations, domestic conflict and violence, rela­tions in school, how much loneliness there is, how much bullying there is, how much peer press­ure there is, cross-generational relations, social safety nets for old age and disability, the qual­ity and prevalence of frie­nd­ships, acquain­tance net­work rela­tions, distributions of social capital and status, levels of inter­pers­onal trust, levels of average inter­personal care and solid­arity, the de­gree to which people are willing to help stran­gers, norms for treating one an­other in public spaces and in general, the level of kindness and under­stand­ing people show one another, how judg­mental or forgiving we are towards each other, how peo­ple reject one ano­ther and handle norm-break­ers and del­inquents, how many grudges and per­ceived “enemies” we have, what resources there are for conflict resol­ution, which taboos we can’t talk about, how good we are at social pers­pective taking. Et cetera. Relations. Relationships. Amen. In a word: Gemeinschaft.”

At a global/meta level, I started a discord group called ‘The Mythical Coterie of the Fox’ (or simply ‘The Coterie’, for short). This group served as a warm haven for complexity practitioners and philosopher-poets, and attracted a wonderful array of folks from around the world (professors, ceos, artists, vagabonds, and more). We would meet for weekly ‘sensemaking skulks’, wherein did our best to figure our way through the meta-crisis we found ourselves in.

In an attempt to bolster our capabilities in the cultivation of scenius, a few of us in the Coterie attended a ‘Microsolidarity’ online program by Natalia Lombardo and Richard D. Bartlett. It was in this exceptional program that I met Joe Lightfoot—a wondrous fellow trickster shaman; numinous, buoyant, sagacious and perspicacious. We became ready friends, and Joe was an integral part of the development of The Coterie. At several key times, Joe was the mentor I turned to when navigating the complex yet ambiguous tensions of cultivating a warm and aplty generative dynamic. I would have burnt out or the whole thing would have flopped without his wisdom.

Joe is the author of A Collective Blooming—the rise of the mutual aid community, host of The Lightfoot Podcast and conjurer of A Metamodern Solarpunk Manifesto.

In this podcast episode—recorded in the first week or so of 2021—we reflect upon the cultivation of community online. We also touch upon notions of decentralised leadership (and the decentralised ‘self’).

The Mythical Coterie of the Fox is not as active as we were this time last year; 2021 has a distinctly different flavour to it. We remain in connected, though. And the embers of the hearth still glow warmly.

For me, the lessons learnt in the creation, cultivation and stewardship of a discord community have been invaluable. It’s helped me to put together some of the pieces that were, quite simply, incompatible in Enterprise Land. I have since joined dozens of new discord groups—most of which as a source of alfalfa as I navigate the shifting world of web3.

Discord provides the infrastructure that allows many DAOs (decentralised autonomous organisations) to coordinate and sensemake together. And whilst my adventures in some discord servers have been quite pleasant; very few come close to the sense of communitas that is possible.

We are still on the frontier here, though. And we are still (relatively) early. This means: there’s plenty of time and opportunity to warm the havens of the cozyweb pockets we find within the dark forest of web3. To cultivate a kind of Gemeinschaft politics, so that together we (literally) co-create a world more curious and kind.



A rogue philosopher.