By what looks like popular demand on the Society for Creative Anachronism thread, I'm linking a three-part account of three roles that supposedly exist within every lasting subculture or "volunteer-dominated" organization. The author has no proper authority at all but has personally observed many subcultures in the wild.

These roles do not represent exclusive personality types as such. A person who serves as Authenticity Cop in one community may theoretically serve as Fun Maven or even Dream Nazi elsewhere.*

Dream Nazis: Supply vision for the group. Brad describes this as inherently promoting a Golden Age myth of a glorious past. Hopefully this reflects the term's origins in the SCA and not any practical necessity.

Authenticity Police: Seek accuracy and nitpick perceived mistakes. You know this one already.

Fun Mavens: Work up a sweat doing free lifting or other labor for the organization, then enjoy 'a few' cold beers with their comrades. (I find it amusing that I took a while to think of the right word at the end there.) Brad argues that in addition to doing all that work, Fun Mavens sustain the organization by recruiting.


*I wonder if Eliezer doesn't wear two hats right here, never mind at the SIAI.

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Just a side note, but... I want to play in a roleplaying setting that has Dream Nazis and Authenticity Police.

I'm pretty sure the presence of a Golden Age myth to lure Dream Nazis is just a common and effective piece of memetic engineering, not a requirement per se. The practical emphasis on a past golden age varies wildly even within bradhicks' examples; rhetorical emphasis on the Progressive Era within American leftist circles is fairly light, for example, and my understanding is that the neolithic matriarchy hypothesis is pretty badly tarnished by now. Some groups that he doesn't mention, like contemporary musical subcultures or the singularitarian movement that we're all familiar with, don't have one at all -- although nostalgia for an earlier form of the subculture might fill a similar role among oldbies with Dream Nazi leanings.

I believe organizations need some sort of vision of what they hope to be, but it doesn't need to be a golden age.

Anyone with experience care to talk about vision and start-ups?

Ha, I knew I forgot to add something. Thank you.


Just a slight warning - Hicks' blog is almost as compulsive as TVTropes. I've read through his full archive at least twice now...

It would be interesting to see how this hooks into more general theory of subcultures. i.e., if this is the case there are likely proper academic terms for each of these and a body of work on the subject.

Are there any sociologists in the house?

general theory of subcultures

Uuuuuh, shiny!


Hicks is summarising Eric Hoffer's The True Believer , which I keep meaning to read one of these days and which seems to be considered a classic of social psychology.