14. The Who: Not Just For Millennials
Collectives tend to attract people of all ages, with each generation being drawn towards the experience for slightly different reasons:
Gen Z (born between 1995-2020) because they are the youngest adults amongst us and are naturally be drawn to projects that challenge the status quo and push the boundaries of what was previously considered possible. Many of them are also digital natives that have a global perspective and a clear sense of how quickly we can make use of new social networks to effect change in our technological age.
Millennials (born between 1980-1995) because they are the first generation that has had no choice but to squarely face up to the fact that our species is facing total Climate Breakdown. They are also well aware that they will face the consequences of such ecological catastrophe in their lifetimes, and because of this, they don’t just desire change, they recognise that it’s our only hope for survival.
Generations X (born between 1965-1980) because after living through three decades of intensely Hollow & Oppressive Economic Materialism, many of them harbour a kind of pragmatic resilience that is coupled with a deep yearning to pass a more resonant and meaningful societal model onto their children.
Baby Boomers (born between 1945-65) because they are now of retiring age and have more time available to engage with causes they believe in. A lot of Boomers are also lucky enough to still remember the high water mark of the late sixties and so have a living memory of what can happen when a large movement of people begin to mobilise towards creating a better world. Many Boomers also have much hard earned wisdom they wish to share and are attracted to the idea of having a caring communal support network around them as they age.
The Quadruple H Population
But no matter their generation, anyone wishing to participate in prototyping such new forms of mutual aid community will have to be a courageous, patient and open hearted individual. The early adopters are likely to have a strong commitment to social justice, creative expression and personal growth. And there is a good chance that many of them (but by no means all) will be composed of a demographic that the author Hanzi Frienacht has described as the Quadruple H Population. That of Hippies, Hipsters, Hackers and Hermetics. In Hanzi’s words:
‘A hacker is not just a person who illegally gains access to computer systems; the hackers I refer to, self-identified...or not...produce digital solutions and software that reduce the complexity of society and make it manageable. Of course, not all IT-workers, computer engineers and programmers can be considered to be hackers in this sense. Only the ones who combine their IT and programming skills with an intimate, embodied knowledge of digital culture (and other sensitivities towards our day and age) can be considered as such....
Hipsters are not just people with a particular style of fashion, or the pretentious college kids who show off their supposedly good taste in music and art. The hipsters I refer to produce the many symbols that help us to orientate ourselves in, make sense of, and find meaning in the global, digital age. Here you find a wide array of artists, designers, thinkers, social entrepreneurs, writers and bloggers. They develop the ideas of posthumanism, transhumanism, complexity and network researchers, participatory forms of politics and social movements, critique of wage labor (and the often irrational nature of work in the economy), ecological and social resilience, personal development, organizational development, the new gender and sexual relations, our forms of family and community life, the interactions of different cultures – and much more. They also, notably, embody these new thoughts by creating music, fashion, movies, books and games that embody these new values and ideas....
The Hippies are the people who produce new lifestyles, habits and practices that make life in postindustrial society happier, healthier and, perhaps, more enchanted. The hippies here are not quite the same as the hippies of old: the starry-eyed New Agers who looked to astrology, crystals, transpersonal psychologies and gurus, but rather people with highly developed skills in meditation, contemplation, bodily practices, psychedelics, diets and physical training, profound forms of intimate communication and sexuality and simple life wisdoms that apply to our day and age.’30
Hanzi has recently added a fourth category, that of the Hermetics. He describes them as being primarily focused on the kinds of ’transrational' truths that are often approached through the study of comparative religion, archetypal forms, symbolic patterns and cross cultural mythology. Hermetics seek to bridge the known and the unknown by intuiting a kind of esoteric ‘Meta Narrative’ that may very well constitute the basis of meaning itself. They place great value on the process of inner transformation and are constantly orienting themselves towards greater levels of depth through the integration of their own shadow material. Due to their often solitary nature the Hermetics are somewhat harder to pinpoint within society, however they operate across many industries and cultural contexts often without ever revealing the true depth of their inner experience. They are found across various fields of research, are commonly drawn towards positions in academia and are the psychological depth workers amongst us. They also have an inclination towards any endeavour that involves the creation of new symbol sets and cultural narratives.
Effective Value Memes
And beyond these age related and vocation based demographics, a final common denominator amongst those likely to first join Collectives tends to be the system of ‘cultural values’ or ‘value memes’ they make use of to navigate through life. By ‘value memes’, I refer to a distinct spectrum of world views, belief structures and decision making frames that developmental psychologists have been mapping out since the mid 20th Century. In Beck and Cowans developmental model, known as Spiral Dynamics, the early adopters drawn to participate in Collectives would likely be described as having either a ‘Green/Relativistic’ or ‘Yellow/Systemic’ set of values, and in Hanzi Frienacht’s model, such individuals would be typified as having either Postmodern or Metamodern values. For a deeper understanding of adult developmental psychology and the corresponding notion of effective value memes, I highly recommend reading Frienacht’s book The Listening Society, in which he makes clear that any application of such models must be done with the utmost care, in order to ensure that such frameworks are used solely to create growth hierarchies which liberate us rather, than new dominator hierarchies which perpetuate the status quo.
So now that we have a clearer sense of what Collectives are, and the kinds of people likely to get involved, let’s now take a look at how they can evolve and flourish over time.