Launching the Manifesto of Virtualism. A sequel to History Has Begun, main tenets of the new political philosophy, and the first Manifesto issued as an NFT
My book History Has Begun traces the history of a certain political philosophy I argue was born and developed in the American republic, before turning into a real alternative to the kind of liberal thought on which America was founded. The book is an attempt to describe an actually existing alternative to liberalism, one that cannot be confused with authoritarian precursors to liberalism.
Many readers noted that the book was more historical than philosophical and that a different kind of project could be developed in the future: organizing the new political theory as a set of principles to be versed in rules and institutions, rather than tracing its prehistory and gradual development. It is that project that I now plan to start developing with this manifesto.
In a number of writings since History Has Begun I decided on the name “virtualism” as the most appropriate for the political philosophy first broached in that book. We are now in the year of the metaverse, so I no longer have to spend a lot of energy defending the idea that virtual reality is for us less a technology than a whole way of life. And yet what I argued in History Has Begun was that virtual reality was already present everywhere in American society. It was perhaps not explicit, but that in a way is the whole point of virtual reality. Explicitness would ruin the illusion.
Take wokeness, for example: put on your avatar, enter an artificial and highly organized world, play by the rules, marvel at the wonders. “Wow, 300 genders!” There are rewards and penalties in the woke metaverse, just as in every video game. In History Has Begun I focused on a different metaverse, Trumpism, but they are children of the same god, the political idea I call virtualism. The higher genus is virtualism. Wokeness and Trump are varieties of virtualism, and many other varieties can easily be conceived.
Virtualism responds to a very serious political demand. How to give depth to political experience without running the deadly risks entailed by politics? Those risks were somehow accepted or even celebrated before the liberal moment. With liberalism, we took the opposite path, eliminating political risk even if that came at the cost of a great levelling, neutralization or reduction of human experience. I see political virtualism as a synthesis of these two extremes: every experience is admitted but only as a virtual experience, a fantasy to be enjoyed in the relative safety of its own unreality.
There is a question of how to publish a manifesto in our time. Affixing it to a church door or publishing it the newspaper seem frankly outdated. As I argued before, a new idea or concept are perfectly suited to be embodied in an NFT or non-fungible token. An NFT has no physical reality, while acquiring the kind of permanence that every good idea aspires to. I am thus publishing my Manifesto of Virtualism as an NFT. You can take a look at the Manifesto here. You can even screenshot or download a copy for free.
P.S.: the Manifesto has now been sold for 10 Eth, the equivalent to 45,000 USD at current rates, but will continue to be on the market and future transactions remain of course possible.