Sunday, 5 September 2010

Danton's Real Life User Guide

It seems that I've given up on my series of posts about the meetings of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators. My disappointment at the failure of the merger of CDS with Al Andalus obviously has something to do with it. For the moment I've turned my attention to another project: Danton's Real Life User Guide.

In fact, Danton's Real Life User Guide has been online for a while - but until recently it contained only a single article. Before that, I used that same website, with its bizarre URL "," for various experimental projects, which I subsequently moved to other Mediawiki websites with more appropriate URLs. At the moment I'm too buzy to make another site with a better URL, so Danton's Real Life User Guide will stay at

One of the previous projects developed at that URL and then moved elsewhere was Danton's Second Life User Guide. I had lots of fun fleshing out that site, but that Second Life User Guide was overly ambitious, and I stopped working on it when it was less than half-baked.

A mental toolkit

With "" standing empty, I came up with a new experiment for it. For years I've been turning over the idea of developing some sort of mental toolkit for popular consumption. As I explain on the website: "A mental toolkit is a collection of conceptual schemes which, by reflecting how the world works, help the person carry out individual and collective projects." The mental toolkit project is closely related to my interest in convivial tools - but it would take us off the track if I tried to explain that now.

The political dimension

The mental toolkit includes pages containing various practical tips on subjects that seem to me to be particularly important or useful. But it quickly became evident that there is a political dimension to this project. The very idea of disseminating a mental toolkit is rooted in a larger project of trying to distribute personal power more equally to all members of society.

So this website has also become the place where Danton explains his politics. Danton, who was more radical in his youth, now espouses moderate socialism, meaning: "limited socialism under a democratic political regime with a free market economy." This is explained in more detail on the website.

I find it a relief to be able to set out my political position, for the record. I've always been a bit of an anarchist, but at the same time some sort of socialist. In the years since the fall of communism (which I refer to as the "failure of Marxist governments"), the principal form of socialism has become social democracy. This just means a certain dose of distributive socialism within a democratic regime: all developed nations are in fact already social-democratic, including Western Europe of course, but also including the United States itself (progressive income tax, social security and welfare are "socialist" mechanisms).

This explanation of my view of socialism might also serve as a reply to John Carter McNight, who in a comment on his own blog, described "social democracy, Marxism and the US Democratic Party, all … as being sides in a war long over, products of a world that hasn’t existed since the fall of Reagan, Thatcher and the Berlin Wall." I understand his preference for a "techno-libertarian/anarcho-capitalist" viewpoint, but I think he's wrong to consider that social-democracy is a thing of the past. I would say instead that moderate socialism is the most favorable framework for the development of a techno-libertarian and anarcho-capitalist lifestyle.