Nordic Ideology, Part 2: The Plan

Six Forms of Metamodern Politics

Image for post
Image for post
“Only by seriously helping people to get what they really need and want from life — by supporting serious adult development, development of the mind and the personality as a whole — that we can raise the level of behavioral functioning throughout society and the level of mental health throughout all social groups. It is in this manner we can raise the average “effective value meme” of the population above the modern stage.”

So how exactly does Hanzi envision our infiltration into the tangled fabrics of society’s functioning? How to bring the change we so desperately need? Granted, we ourselves have to be this change, embody it to prototype further — but apart from that? Hanzi offers six new forms of politics, intricately vowen into one network. Six processes to check and balance one another — and one Master Pattern to rule them all.

Let’s recap how personal growth shapes societal progress:

Society changes one person at a time. We cannot direct its development without “a new political movement to put such psychological growth on the agenda.” That is, without political metamodernism:

The frameworks that people use to address reality grudgingly become outdated.

1. Democratisation politics.

“Is the form of governance prevailing in the west today the most democratic there is ever going to be?”, asks Hanzi in the beginning of this section. His answer is “no”. Moreover, adds Hanzi, democracy is not a binary thing (society is not either democratic or not democratic). Rather, democracy itself is an instrument of becoming more and more democratic, which involves:

1. increasing dispersion of leadership;
2. increasing volume, complexity and efficiency of information processing;
3. increased accountability and balancing of powers, putting greater demands upon the verifiability of decision-making;
5. a deepening and thickening of de jure and de facto participation and popular support in processes of decision-making and opinion formation; and
6. the growth of democratic, egalitarian and multi-perspectival culture and values.

Societies seem to have been progressing in this direction for some time now. There is no point in thinking that our current forms of politics, equilibrated around the attractor of liberal democracy is the last word. What we have is not the end game. Rather, it is always more prolific to consider contemporary situation as a medium point of history’s progress. In this sense, we never leave medieval times.

Hanzi hypothesises that in order to promulgate democratisation we have to harmoniously advocate for the proliferation of the four fundamental tenets of democratic process: (1) direct democracy, (2) representative democracy, (3) participatory democracy, and (4) deliberative democracy.

2. Gemeinschaft politics.

Image for post
Image for post
“The quality of ordinary citizens’ relations with one another can make or break a country. Societies characterised by a strong sense of community, high levels of trust and mutual respect and understanding tend to be richer, less corrupt and more peaceful. Countries with weak communal bonds, widespread distrust and little sense of belonging often fall apart, sometimes violently… If a country fails badly enough at Gemeinschaft you get Yugoslavia or Iraq, it if succeeds, you get Denmark or Japan.”

German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies differentiated between Gesellschaft (formal societal structures addressed in the section on Democratisation) and Gemeinschaft (fellowship, intimate relationships within communities).

I’m going to delve into this chapter at great depth because I think it is of utter importance in the context of my own work with these same issues and the metamodern clairvoyance of Rowan Williams who sees it as a loadstar of society’s development.

If you look at any of our problems a bit closer you’ll see how much it has to do with the damaged fabrics of interpersonal relationships.

Take climate:

Take poverty:

All these challenges to our wellbeing stem from defective

We have been focused too much on which particular norms are valid or not, in place of focusing on how we impose any kinds of norms on each other in the first place: “how to handle norm-breakers and delinquents”, how to treat “one another in public spaces and in interactions at large.” Norms may be important, but the way in which we impose these norms on others is arguably not less important. But what can we do to inhance the situation? Just talking about it… helps, it actually does, for it at least brings the subject to awareness, makes it salient to us.

Your bad mood is a virus. Every time you interact with another person, you create an inprint in her psyche, your careless remarks and subtle signal do not exasperate with the end of the encounter, but swirl and cave in the basement of her mind forever, ready to be passed on to another unlucky host. We have to understand how important these baseline everyday interactions between people are. They are the context, the background atmosphere to everything we do. To tune them in the right way we need Gemeinschaft Politics. Hanzi offers four examples of what it might look like:

1. Measures to train emotional, social and collective intelligence: “training sessions in school to successfully read facial expressions and body language, guessing the hidden motivations of others, participating in games of perspective taking, training team formations and task delegation to compete against other groups in tasks of collective intelligence — and so forth.”
2. Organised community housing for families and the elderly: “elderly citizens could move to shared spaces that are safe for frail and weak bodies, letting families with children move into their houses rather than the seniors holding on to them, partaking in shared gardening projects, sharing some burdens of cooking, baby-sitting and so forth. There would be a facilitated framework for democratic decision-making and partly shared ownership — with relevant training offered to key people.”
3. Support for local citizen discussion clubs led by professional facilitators: “New arenas for public deliberation are needed and more people should be trained and equipped to become local leaders and facilitators of such meeting places… demand is huge for spaces in which people can be “general citizens” and speak their minds on current events and pressing topics and listen to the perspective of others.”
4. Making room for civil society projects in public spaces: “It is somehow taken for granted that most of the public spaces of a modern consumer society should be reserved for commercial activities. Busy shops in the center of town have long been considered the yardstick of a thriving community… People and organisations should be able to book public areas that are frequented by many fellow citizens and use them as meeting places and platforms for artistic, cultural or social ends.”

Let’s also address gender antagonism. There can be no stable and happy society in which the basic matrix of sexual/family relations is corrupted by bitterness, resentment, and disproportion.

Granted,

But there is still a lot of misery and suffering going on connected to the relations between genders. Hanzi gives us one example:

Almost everything that was mentioned in this example could have been the subject of conscious amelioration on the societal, communal, and personal levels:

All of this reminds of the type of discussions one might sometimes have within one’s family, talks about something that was always determining the flow of events, but always resisted being brough up into articulated awareness. These hyper-conscious deliberations are the core of what it means to be “meta” — no matter how awkward these surfaced subterrean strats can make us feel under the scrutiny of mindful dialogue, there is no coming back. There is this idea in Christianity that after Adam and Eve were exiled from the paradise of Eden by via becaming conscious and self-aware, there was no coming back through becoming unconscious again, rather, the new paradise — heavenly Jerusalem — was now reachable only through becoming more and more conscious:

3. Existential politics.

Image for post
Image for post
Brent Cooper considers the concept of metanoia to be a cornerstone of metamodernism

There can be no politics without the underlying overarching narrative about reality, “some kind of religion” in broad terms.

We can talk about what is rational to do in relationship to certain goals, but these goals themselves cannot be defended through rational argument. Means can be rational or irrational, but goals we pursue can be what Hanzi calls “trans-rational”:

What systems of knowledge, what wisdom traditions would help us to ground our goals in their transrational ethos?

This is the sentence I was fishing for: “some aspects of post-faustian society and its traditional religions should be re-examined and judiciously reinvented”. This is precisely what I’m trying to do in my own work where I revisit eastern orthodox Christianity to find what it might offer to this growing field of wisdom-cultivating practices.

We need these practices at the core of our societies if we want our societies because collective integrity is always grounded in the integrity of the individual. And because inner worlds matter:

And this is what I would like to point out — aren’t these two sets of statistics correlate? Doesn’t a shattered dream often lead to a suicide? So isn’t it our duty to non-linearly save millions of bodies by preemptively saving millions of souls?

Secular monasteries.

Image for post
Image for post
The Monastic Academy in Vermont, USA

John Vervaeke often laments that modern society doesn’t have an institution where people can apply for wisdom. We have schools for eduction, academia for science, entertainment industry for pleasure. But where do we turn for wisdom? We used to have monasteries for that, but the protestant countries decided that they’re better off without them. And since these countries were and still are at the vanguarde of west’s development, this societal structure bereft of monastic routine became the norm even in the Catholic countries which nominally still have monasteries. In one of his lectures Vervaeke brilliantly demonstrates how Lutheran narcissistic individualism miltiplied by the doctrine of undeserved grace trumped any notion of spiritual work, striving, excersice, metanoia, development, and led to the abandonment of monastic institutions and the birth of modern society.

If modern society has, as Foucault argued, been marked by “the birth of the clinic”, Metamodern society must usher in

Today’s global problems can become “solvable” only through the global awareness that includes many previously “othered” perspectives. The ailments of modern world can only be treated if we grow into the adults whose level of inclusion surpasses family/nation/and race identities and broadens to include queer/animal/and ecological perspectives. We are after the full-blown adultisation of society, as argued by Alexander Bard:

As potential adults, children would be better off if they begin self-cultivation early on. Real adult development begins before one can walk:

What are we after here? Integrity.

Integrity, wholeness, chastity and oneness versus fragmentation, disparity, and separation; god vs devil. It is Jung’s individuation process; it is every religion’s call for unity. Same goes for us, regular human beings — with all due respect to polytheist traditions, our personalities function properly when they are united under the auspicies of “One God”, not when its divergent subpersonalities serve different power-hungry principalities.

It may seem ubiquitous and irrelevant to a regular reader, but you know what is also ubiquitous? The most terrifying crimes committed against humanity. Evil is banal, as argued Hannah Arendt:

It all starts from small things. “If we are to belief her”, says Hanzi,

But personal identity cannot exist separately. It stacks up to cultivate the transpersonal integrity, which

The point is not to transcend the ego once and for all — for eveybody:

And much like Nordic and German Bildung centers,

4. Emancipation Politics.

Image for post
Image for post
We need to be parts of the whole. But we also need to hold on to our own individual identities. Gemeinschaft is to be balanced by Emancipation. Metamodernism is both-and.

a) as society’s complexity increases,
b) this also creates pressures to increase the reach and density of governance,
c) and this creates new sources of oppression (both the increased complexity of society at large and the new layers of governance),
d) and this creates an increased need to expand negative human rights and freedoms, i.e. the right not to be subjected to a host of new oppressions,
e) and as these new negative rights must be of a subtler and more abstract nature, they will be harder to define, defend and make sound and socially sustainable,
f) which thus makes necessary an ongoing political process (Emancipation Politics) through which information is gathered, rights and obligations are perpetually discussed and tested, and new institutions are created in order to defend people against new forms of oppression.

Hanzi lists four main dimensions of oppression:

1. External state and/or market structures;
2. Limits of everyday life interactions, the cultural forms of oppression: “if you are of a lower effective value meme than most of society and you are pressured to take on a straightjacket of morality requiring an inner depth and cognitive complexity that you simply lack, this feels like oppression. You try to be a good person, but even if you try your best, people keep attacking and degrading you for being shallow and evil, and you never quite see it coming. In such cases, you are being culturally oppressed. Higher value memes can be oppressed by lower ones as well, like when the Nazis went after “degenerate art” or when today’s speciesist society penalises people who don’t think we should torture two-year-old toddlers to death (vegans being against factory farming)”;
3. Other people and their behaviors more directly standing in your way: “Ideally “your freedom should end where mine begins”, but in actual social reality, people and their lives are always layered in social relations: parents have power over their kids, larger family groups over single persons, bosses over employees, teachers over pupils, bossy and manipulative peers over peers. Your freedom doesn’t start at my outer border, but at the center of my heart”;
4. Our own inner oppression of ourselves: “freedom is always dependent upon us having sufficient skills and faculties to act freely and make use of what resources we have for the benefit of ourselves and others. For instance, if you cannot recognise what emotions and deeper motives arise within ourselves, we will be slaves to motives that lie beyond our conscious awareness — often being stuff such as greed, envy, power hunger, or an unreasonable sense of insecurity. This last category links us right back to Existential Politics: Obviously, there is an intrinsic connection between our relationship to existence and the deeper freedom in our lives.

5. Empirical Politics.

Image for post
Image for post
“From an informational perspective, the very reason democracy works is the same reason science works in the first place: It allows for ideas and claims to be intersubjectively scrutinised and checked. The developmental direction, in terms of attractors and “relative utopia”, could not be clearer that in this case: The future metamodern society must be a society closer to the approachable but always unattainable truth.”

Always medieval, as I have put it in a previous part of the review. Or, rather, metadieval, because one thing differentiates us from the medievals: We are at least becoming conscious of our perpetual predicament.

Hanzi is also very kind to offer us the ten tenets of what this “Ministry of Truth” would do:

1. evaluate, survey, rate and publicise the degree of evidence-based practive in all areas of public sector work and civil service;
2. aim to improve the quality, relevance and reliability of science, throughout all bracnhes;
3. cultivate and develop the critical meta-discussion about science and its role in society (we should make certain that science as a whole and our “politics of science” are properly critiqued from as many and systematic angles as possible);
4. increase the number of networked contacts adn exchanges between the scientific fields (interdisciplinarity);
5. increase the average ability for critical thinking and logical reasoning in the general population;
6. found crosschecking media institutes;
7. support a co-developmental political structure (we need our political culture and debate to take on more civil and respectful forms);
8. support the development of popular culture in an empirically correct direction (whereas the arts must always remain free, it should be noted that blockbuster movies and popular outlets play a crucial role in forming people’s background understanding of reality… Efforts should ebe made to proliferate more factually correct stories);
9. develop the precision and reliability of everyday language;
10. support the “ontological security” of the population (Ontological security is a term coined by the sociologist Anthony Giddens, and usually refers to “the sense of order and continuity in regard to an individual’s experience”… Our commitment to truth and our ability to challenge our own opinions and conceptions depend upon how safe we all fundamentally feel in the universe. By strengthening this sense of security, we serve truth-in-society at its most essential level. Which links us back to Existential Politics).

6. Politics of Theory.

Image for post
Image for post
Greek word theoria, θεωρία, means seeing, looking at, viewing, beholding. “We need to have institutions that make culture itself transformable because our life conditions will change again and again”.

Hanzi begins this chapter with being radically honest:

It is as if Hanzi is saying Hey, dear children. It is a cliché to say that I was just like you. But I mean really. Look around. I am sitting nearby — that guy you notice the least, sometimes you smile at him but he’s too shy to retaliate. That’s me. «Hi!» I returned to teach you a lesson or two about how the world operates. To brainwash you, to infect you with a certain kind of ideology and philosophy. Because that’s what you actually need to live a happy life, have family, have children, see dreams come true.

So the question, then, is not “should we have massive and extensive brainwashing of millions?” — we already do, and we probably must: Modern society relies upon an educational system, and all societies rely upon shared narratievs and intricate coordination of people’s perspectives and streams-of-action. Rather, the question is, “should this underlying theory of everything be brought under continuous, explicit, democratic scrutiny, or should it remain beyond our reach in terms of democratic governance”?

The great process of Logos incarnated by Jesus of Nazareth, who mediates between Great Mother Mary on earth and Great Father who is in heaven, if you’re into symbolic theology.

With the new technology advancing with an unprecedented pace, “we will be able to create new life and new conscious experience: extremely high and extremely low inner states. If anything goes wrong, we can all but literally create hell.” After all, I think that only one episode of the Black Mirror series has a real happy ending. You get the picture.

Example: Big History in Schools

Postmodern approach to history which focuses on divergent themes that were left out is “arguable more in tune with the multicultural societies of today’s post-colonial, global world, but it still suffers from a number of inadequacies: it’s overly preoccupied with details and smaller histories, more concenrned with picking apart established conceptions than creating new ones, and it offers little help to navigate a hypercomplex, ever more technologically advanced and increasingly interconnected global civilisation on the brink of ecological collapse”. It leaves us with “history in pieces”.

“If there were a ministry of Theory”, says Hanzi, it should gather expertise within:

1. Weltanschauung (worldviewing);
2. Study of value memes (people tend to stabilise their worldview and values around certain discernable equilibria I call “value memes”, which depend upon both social and psychological factors, which can be studied as large patterns or “metamemes” (modernity, postmodernity, metamodernity));
3. Social constructionism (as described by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in 1966);
4. Mythologies and archetypes (Carl G. Jung, Erich Neumann);
5. Narrative analysis;
6. Discourse analysis (based upon the tradition of M. Foucault);
7. Hermeneutics and the hermeneutic circle;
8. Ethnomethodology (invented by Harold Garfinkel);
9. Imaginaries (a concept coined by the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor);
10. Studies of cultural values (such as the World Values Survey or Hofstede’s studies of the organisational culture in different countries).

In the end of the chapter on Politics of Theory, in a characteristically metamodern both/and fashion, Hanzi urges us to be “ironically sincere” when “proto-synthesising” our “meta-narratives”.

The Master Pattern

Image for post
Image for post
“I wasn’t joking when I put all of these six processes in a hexagon; they really do fit together” (p. 343)

There are many partly-metamodern micro-movements that emerge in the world already, preparing the ground for holistic political metamodernism:

1. Existential Politics: “ little political parties and civil society groups who seek to radicalise democratic governance. Wikipedia counts 38 of them worldwide… Sweden has three”;
2. Gemeinschaft Politics: “is prevalent among many volunteering-based groups of civil society — and some professionals within public social work — who work to create “meeting places”, “melting pots” for the cultural integration of immigrants, dialogue clubs for common issues, fora for dealing with cultural traumas and so forth”;
3. Democratisation politics: “in rudimentary form exists within a lot of spiritual circles… you have movements like Syntheism, and to some extent the Burning Man Festival community, which seek to explore and co-create new forms of spirituality and existential development”;
4. Emancipation politics: “pirate parties… Silicon valley people who share libertarian ethos” and postmodern critical theorists;
5. Empirical politics: “shows up amongst all those science and “evidence based politics” parties”;
6. Politics of Theory: “you can find it in networks and think tanks which have as their explicit goal to change the metanarrative of society. Metamoderna, Ekskäret Foundation in Sweden (they have a private island where they gather people to talk about the future of society) and Perspectiva in the UK (they, especially the chess Grand Master Jonathan Rowson, write about spirituality and personal development connected to e.g. climate crisis)”

Let’s consider Politics of Theory, the most complex and profound of the metamodern political processes. It must “be coordinated with the real, embodied communities that exist in society (Gemeinschaft) and be held in check by verifiable factual claims (Empirical), and any attempt to force perspectives down people’s throats must be challenged and counteracted (Emancipation), and it must be reconnected to a transparent democratic process (Democratisation), and whatever narratives and value memes are strengthened through this process must be matched by the inner development of the population (Existential). It needs all five other processes up and running in order to emerge in a functional, healthy way.”

1. Existential Politics develops the relationship of me to myself, my subjective inner world, the relationship between 1st person and 1st person. It offers metanoïa.
2. Gemeinschaft Politics develops the relationship between us and us, between people in general, relating to another as a “you”, in 2nd person. It offers metaxy (and also metaphor);
3. Democratisation politics develops the relationship of the single “me” to society, to all other people, empowering my participation and so forth. It offers metastasis (reforming forms, structure of governance);
4. Emancipation politics develops the relation of society to me, of how I have right to be treated or not treated by society as a whole, by all of you. It offers metaplay (being exempt from whatever the stucture that suffocates you and being offered a different set of games to play);
5. Empirical politics puts 3rd person constraints upon what forms of relations can be had between self and society (all the four above relations between 1st and 2nd person); it is thus the relationship between 3rd person reality and the self/society relation. It offers metacognition (applying scientific scrutiny to scrutinise applying scientific scrutiny and so on);
6. Politics of Theory develops the relationship fo self/society to reality as a whole, i.e. to reality in 3rd person. It is thus the relationship of all the first four processes (1st and 2nd person) to a commonly constructed 3rd person view. It offers metaphysics.

Again, how to enkindle these processes in a given society and the world at large? Hanzi deposits two main agents of change: 1. the metamodern aristocracy and 2. the process-oriented party.

“Some of the Green, centrist and leftwing parties will steal your [Democratisation Politics] ideas and find their own twist on them, which is fine.” Same for Gemeinschaft Politics, with its aspects stolen by “social democrats, center-right conservatives or even nationalists who seek to revive obsolete forms of social integration”. Then you introduce Existential Politics only to see it recycled by “Christian democrats or equivalents, making it their hallmark.” But that is fine.

A lecturer and a PhD student at the UofK in Ukraine.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store