This episode is a loose exploration of Rich’s personal and political background, as inputs to the key themes of the Microsolidarity proposal. We discuss his early life in a fundamentalist Christian church in New Zealand, and how leaving this cultish environment actually proved an important lesson in how to move beyond limited or unproductive belief systems.
One of the key factors in Rich being able to get out of that church was an early bout of what he terms ‘performative agnosticism’ — a deliberate engagement with ideas that may run contrary to one’s own. Imagining a world in which God did not exist put Rich on a whole new track, one which determines his path to this day. What could we be gained by taking a similarly open mind towards others’ ideas, whether to integrate or jettison them down the road? Could this be healthier than the left’s puritanical, so-called ‘cancel culture’, obsessed with negating anything it dislikes or disagrees with? And what is it that makes some people able to audition ‘dangerous’ ideas in relative security?
Finally, we look at the organization and methods behind Enspiral, the prototype for the microsolidarity proposal. Rich sees producing social change as extremely urgent, given existential threats to our world in the form of ecological disorder, social atomisation, and pervasive loneliness. Could Enspiral, with its ‘cult-lite’ approach to nurturing and sustaining social connections amongst disparate humans, be a template for a happier, more satisfying existence — one that could form the basis for a counterculture capable of fighting existential risk?