Soulpunk: Notes Toward a Manifesto

We live in an age of unprecedented technological achievement, global connection, and cultural sophistication. Yet, despite our vast stores of knowledge and advanced machinery, the average human being is more miserable than ever. The rates of depression, mental illness, and suicide continue to rise in developed countries, and many people remain deeply dissatisfied with their lives despite the “progress” we have made.

Indeed, amidst the rise of advanced cities and the advent of the “metaverse”, many are retreating to the margins of society in search of a simpler life. From the millennials converting used vans and buses into mobile living spaces, to the homesteading and hobby farm movements, human beings are once again desiring a closer connection with the Earth that gives us life.

Additionally, not two hundred years after Darwin and Nietzsche contributed to the “death of God”, we are also seeing a resurgence in spirituality and religion. Confronted with stressful lives and the finality of death, many people are searching for meaning and fulfillment, regardless of metaphysical beliefs.

Enter the soulpunk.

Set against a dystopian society which values productivity over fulfillment, and progress over happiness, the soulpunk seeks to carve out a meaningful existence despite their surroundings. They take the best tools humanity has to offer – philosophy, science, art, technology – and deploy them in ways that elevate human existence and bring joy back to life. The soulpunk rejects false Darwinian notions of “survival of the fittest” in search of win-win scenarios, rejects progress for its own sake, and embraces life-affirming values instead.

The ”soul” in soulpunk refers to a focus on meaning and connection. It emphasizes interdependence, personal fulfillment, beauty, truth, and generosity. Soulpunks act from a place of abundance, not scarcity, and seek to impart this sense of abundance to others through work and play. Deeply charitable, soulpunks work within their means to improve the world around them, whether that be through ambitious projects or local “hacks” and incremental improvements. Although soulpunks do not have to be religious, necessarily, they are deeply spiritual in ways that are personally meaningful to them.

The ”punk” in soulpunk refers to a rebellious and nonconformist attitude, even noncompliant. The soulpunk is the kind of person who prioritizes their values despite economic and social hardships, speaking truth to power and embracing the consequences gladly. Soulpunks would rather be poor with integrity, rather than wealthy and compromised, although they don’t shy away from material success if it comes ethically and joyfully.

Soulpunks are ambitious, driven, principled, and bold. They are not afraid of what the future holds, although they do their best to make sure that future is inclusive and fulfilling for as many people as possible. Instead of being passive beneficiaries of “progress”, soulpunks are active participants in the processes that shape human futures, often leading by example.

If these things describe you, even in part, you may be one of us.

Other Resources: Island, Aldous Huxley; The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, Abraham Maslow; The Life Cycle: Revisited, Erik & Joan Erikson; Sense8, Netflix; The OA, Netflix; A Testament, Frank Lloyd Wright; Maps of Meaning, J.B. Peterson; Fundamentals of Integrity Psychology, Zachary R.J. Strong.