Return of the Radical: Manifestos in the Digital Age

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talkProfessional


Manifestos can bring about change by presenting alternative possible futures, outlining concrete actions, and making it clear that the status quo is intolerable. They are the first stop for visionaries: scanning horizons, critiquing the present, and pushing forward new futures are the manifesto’s primary tasks. At the same time, if provocation is its principal mode, and utopian dreams are its content, failure is the manifesto’s most inevitable outcome. The failure rate of manifestos is higher than average. The return of the manifesto is double-edged – often violent, it is driven by emotion and immune to facts. Manifestos hold great potential for change, but they also reflect the dangers that come with extremism. The return of a form that was so ubiquitous in periods of crisis is symptomatic of our present upheaval. On balance, however, the manifesto is more cure than cause. Manifestos help us to think radically outside of incremental evolutionary models, safe predictability and narrow paths. They ask: Can we not do better? In this talk I will argue that the manifesto is an indispensible tool for working towards better futures in challenging and uncertain times. I will also describe a card game, MANIFESTO!, that was developed to help people write their futures into being.
Period9 Nov 2019
Event titleFutures Festival 2019: Radical Transformations
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • manifestos
  • activism
  • social change
  • futures studies