Metamodern Horizons. Political Economy and Prescriptions

Part 12 of a multipart series, “How to Nurture Truth and Authenticity”. This article series is for economic reformers and political activists interested in the metamodern political movement. This series will undoubtedly find appeal with those who have come to understand that the current values which drive global economy, those which we call liberal, are obstructing solutions to contemporary political challenges — in as much, those values are unable to guide a common activity beyond. Admittedly, the prescriptions herein are likely a mere articulation of what is intuitively felt across a large demographic — certainly those who have found themselves gravitating toward contemporary nationalist solutions.

Today we stand within a vision. We have been brought to this moment understanding that to describe man as merely an empire builder — as that animal who apprehends, oversees, surmounts, and dominates — is to describe him from the ‘exterior’. Anthropologically. That is, scientifically and without perspective (Friedrich Nietzsche). Such an understanding of man produces ‘the modern’. The modern ideal is utopia, such that man, this particular ‘modern man’, is to be liberated in governance. Those invested with this ideal seek nothing short of a ‘uni-verse’. As manifest in politics, the modern is totalitarian. Therefore, the warfare of modern political theory is conducted by way of packaged deals — liberalism vs nationalism or capitalism vs communism — such that today we understand the victor of the ideological war as a United States lead liberalism, built upon capital and market economics, and partnered with social welfare programs. Yet, this understanding is a simplification. This becomes apparent when considering the variety of platforms on offer during the United States Democratic party’s 2020 presidential primaries — where we find appeals to even nationalism alive and well in Pete Buttigieg’s National Service Plan. And, if this were to be coupled with Bernie Sander’s Medical for All national health insurance program, then you might say even the United States has, as belonging to its possible future, National Socialism. Of course, the spirit for liberalism is certainly alive in these platforms. No one there is proposing Nazi political economy in which the democratic institutions, education, news media, and market are subject to coercion from the elected party. Yet, even when the liberal spirit is explicitly evident — for example, in the gun-toting American — we can still imagine circumstances which would call for emergency action without deliberation — an exercise we might think of as authoritarian.
In as much, it is naïve to think that liberalism won, such that its rivals had been defeated. We must admit that the ideals of liberalism, nationalism, and social welfare are each present, here and now. Of course, with this understanding we must admit that, unfortunately for those who laughing disregard claims that “true communism has not been tried”, neither has true liberalism. “True liberalism” as a true liberation from governance could only realize as utopia once man was free from any governor, save his own-most moral compass. Yet, it is to be decided if a governance of such one-sided ideal would be desirable. After all, we would likely call this anarchism. And even as the liberal spirit runs through us today, presented with a globalizing market economy, there is reason why the name anarchy brings about disgust. We are not in possession of the conditions for this governance. We do not have reason for it. In today’s economy, anarchy is irrational. Therefore, it performs as negation. Punk culture is thoroughly postmodern.
Standing here in the liminal here and now — in this “time between worlds” — the icons of modernization have come into question. We stand not only above modern aesthetics, but equally above the postmodern antithesis — that which we understand as founded upon the same primordial actio, episteme. The very residue of modernization’s epistemological comportment are an embodiment of the modern ideal’s totalitarianism and imperialism. In thinking on the exercise from the previous article, where we had subjected ourselves to an exploration of the United States Army Corp of Engineers district maps, we became positively estranged from that residue. The very shape of the country, from the north western Washington border to the Florida peninsula, calls back to the conquests of the modern ideal. The Stars and the Stripes, the Capitol Building, the White House, even the commercial landscape — the hypermodernist aesthetic of globalization, with brand and corporate loyalty usurping the communion once provided by the church and nation — each of these are icons of the conquests of the modern ideal.
Today we stand within a vision of the metamodern. This vision is only possible having left behind the anthropologist’s man. We take our ‘subject’ for economic reform as neither a me nor a you. Neither a he or a she. The subject of our prescriptions is the very condition for authenticity — that which we understand as a primordial discourse with nature. Throughout this series we have referred to the subject of our prescriptions colloquially as a wheeling and dealing with nature — that which is a condition for the very appearance of the world, by way of authenticity, as manifest in the mediums of feeling, speech, and αληθευειν. As the condition for the articulation and identification of the world, we understand our subject as prior to all theorizing on the world. As pre-theoretical we use the language of metaphysics to describe this condition. As metaphysical, we can only infer our subject through the very disclosure which comes forth out of the radius of the πoλις. This “coming forth” informs the orientation of our prescriptions. Our orientation is introverted back onto that which has come forth. This introversion promises novel discovery as elucidation.
Our “introversion” within the proximity of the πoλις intuits something of the scale of our governance-as-projection. Yet, while the question of scale is undoubtedly of great importance to our project at hand, for the time being, we must forfeit ourselves of any universal answer. The question of appropriate scale can only be answered by the author of any particular there and then. As such, our prescriptions here must be of a different type. We limit ourselves to a localization of the horizons of projection. Modern man sought conquest on the moon. No doubt, tomorrow, this man will conquer Mars. And we let him on his way. We find our frontiers within the trail of modern man’s ruin.
Of course, pictures of a fractured United States are often painted with strokes of fear, anger, or exhaustion — from out of moments of forfeit. These pictures are not only used to pander to the spirit of conservatism, but equally those resonating with progressive narratives. The same can be said for British people’s vote to exit from the European Union. However, what is strikingly absent is an ownership of such fracturing and exiting. Undoubtedly, these movements attest to the spirit which pines for the conditions of truth and authenticity, even if inexplicitly. However, without governance-as-projection, this spirit lacks a commitment to society. As long as this spirit suffers without this goal, the fracturing and the exiting will persist as regressive. Without this goal, these movements can neither sustain nor honor the atomic resonance which provoked them. And without, we can expect that the search for truth to resume through alternative horizon-locating attempts — including especially violent measures such as the isolation of “deplorable” ‘worldviews’ such that they can be eliminated.
Governance-as-projection seeks to remove the cleft which we have identified in the previous chapter — that between discourse and truth. We expect this removal to provide a venue for authenticity. Of course, in order to nurture authenticity within the reunion of discourse and truth, we must not only provide for intimacy and listening, but also sympathy and understanding, trust and security for disclosure. No doubt, we sense hostility toward the unique and the exotic under the demands of the modern ideal’s progress towards totality. Therefore, truth and authenticity demand that we draw a circle, defining a manifold for projection. Only with the definition of a project-area can we expect the world to call after authenticity. We understand the very ideal of democracy demands such “calling after”.
Of course, the first expectation of any economic reform is the material welfare of the human animal. However, in starting firstly in discourse, grounded in projection, as the subject of our economic reform prescriptions, we make a dramatic move — one which we should expect given the obstacles delivered over to us by way of the modern ideal. We are not interested in providing for man’s hunger and his shelter, but for the spiritual satisfaction by way of such hungering and sheltering. We understand that man is not merely to be fed at the trough, such that he could then go roll in the mud — as if spiritual satisfaction followed consequently from material satisfaction. If our economic prescriptions were not spiritual, then they would render themselves unnecessary. We repeated the words of E. F. Schumacher (repeating Karl Marx before him), “…conducting the entire economy on the basis of private greed has shown an extraordinary power to transform the world.” Therefore, what is at stake in economic reform is culture, “…not the standard of living but the quality of life.” And yet, our starting position in metaphysical description allows us to go beyond the mere psychological diagnosis, including whatever solutions might come from such a science. Our prescriptions align with Schumacher’s greater insights,

“A society ruled primarily by the idolatry of enrichissez-vous, which celebrates millionaires as its culture heroes, can gain nothing from socialisation that could not also be gained without it…If the purpose of nationalisation is primarily to achieve faster economic growth, higher efficiency, better planning, and so forth, there is bound to be disappointment.”

“Socialists should insist on using the nationalised industries not simply to out-capitalise the capitalists — an attempt in which they may or may not succeed but to evolve a more democratic and dignified system of industrial administration, a more humane employment of machinery, and a more intelligent utilisation of the fruits of human ingenuity and effort. If they can do that, they have the future in their hands. If they cannot, they have nothing to offer that is worthy of the sweat of free-born men.”

A spiritual economic reform — one which provides for a more “democratic and dignified system of industrial administration”— this is the aim of our economic reform. We follow Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful, fifty years behind.
With this all clearly said, let us now explicitly formulate our prescriptions. Throughout the numbered list which follows, let us keep in mind that we are not prepared to present a static state utopia, such that we can then strategizing toward that utopia. The modern ideal repels us. We begin within our standing position, here and now — from out of our inheritance. As such, our prescriptions must be delivered from the position of the authority to enact them. In the United States, in Europe, as well as in Russia we find both federal/confederal and unitary state structure. No doubt, we should expect prescriptions to look differently within each of these structures. Therefore, we take as our example that which has remained closest to us throughout our development. We limit ourselves to the federal/state structure. Our prescriptions, therefore, will be delivered from this level of administration, presented as a platform for a regionalization of governance, by way of governance-as-projection civil works programs.
  1. Infrastructure. While the projection of any civil works programs remains outside the scope of our prescriptions, what is required here is an infrastructure for enabling regional programs. We have already considered one possibility. Within the United States, the Corp of Engineers offers an infrastructure for flexing federal defense resource. What should be noted is that flexing resource is not tantamount to defunding defense programs. Yet, our platform does anticipate a deanimation of foreign interventionalist policy. And this is, after all, consistent with the establishment of the Corp of Engineers, which traces its history back to 1802, when Thomas Jefferson signed the Military Peace Establishment Act, thereby alleviating the need to employ expert engineers to foreign countries. Flexible resource allocation was central in the establishment of the division. And by sharing military and civil works infrastructure, we also expect to address the estrangement between these two spheres of economy and among people who share a neighborhood, a family, a household.

  2. Financing. We keep present the spirit of liberalism, including liberal economic freedom, not to be shunt aside. While we expect both operations and material procurement to be financed through productivity returns on state capital investment, we also understand the total financing to be pluralistic. This is said explicitly in order to acknowledge concerns which follow from public-owned infrastructure — namely, concerns of inefficiency, waste, and affinity to corruption. We expect accounting to be measured in terms of capital. In other words, these programs must prove themselves financially. It should also be said that in reverting federal budget toward regional civic works programs we expect to sell-in programs at current tax rates. Of course, here it may sound as though we wish to “run the government like a business”. And we must admit, this is partially true. Though only partially. However, in order to understand this qualification, we must position these programs within the rubric of value measurement.

  3. Value Measurement. Firstly, we identify two channels for value measurement: a) the electoral process and b) market economy. In the electoral process value is measured by vote, in market economy by sale. Up to this point, the development of this article series has not provided for an explicit phenomenological account of market economics. However, let us quickly do so. We have already prepared ourselves. Preliminarily, we admit that market economics provide conditions for authenticity — for example, in the previously mentioned “inspiration, lust, desire for engagement that we find in the entrepreneurship of mercantilism”. Yet, we understand that the horizons established by such value measurement has not come to wholly satisfy “long horizons”. Alternatively, democratic election preserves projection toward the good and the right. It preserves value. Therefore, by way of democratic election of both public officers and program projection we seek a hybrid of long and short horizons within market economy.

  4. Electoral Process. Of primary import to the electoral process is infrastructure. Our platform for governance-as-projection must provide for election of unique projects. Bundling projects must be considered an exception — and only when one project is financially dependent on another. There can be no moral bundle. Therefore, our platform requires the establishment of an infrastructure for the creation of political parties with project-based affiliation. Such a transformation of party politics from value-based identity affiliation (progressives/conservatives, liberals/nationalists, democrats/republicans) to project-based affiliation secures a prefigurative approach to political activity.

  5. Recruitment and Remuneration. Recruitment into positions below the electoral (that is, below the visionary and strategic functions) will follow existing open job market models. This includes both managerial and operational functions. Recruitment officers will offer attractive market competitive salary and benefits.

Now, some concluding remarks. The above five enumerated points are not exhaustive. There is much room for interpretation. Of course, this is also intentional. However, our prescriptions must, therefore, also include guidance for interpretation. No doubt, that guidance can be found between the lines of text throughout the previous eleven articles in this series. Yet, there is one principal object which must be keep in the front and center of our mind’s eye — αληθευειν. Of course, securing the primordial actio of αληθευειν as an ideal is not something which can be simply accomplished at the inception of a regional program. Our guidance must be a constant maintenance. Maintaining this ideal means securing conditions such that democratic election and market economy are not succumb to epistemological comportment. Despite the “greed and selfishness” which drives these processes today, we trust this is possible. After all, exercising the vote does not equate to epistemological comportment, outright. We only need to remember that the vote is a mere object of measurement for what has already been long secured before any ballot has reached the hand. Voting is not a thrust of command itself. Securing αληθευειν means that we secure non-violence—violence which today includes political activism and marketing persuasion campaigns.
Of course, as with any nationalization platform, our prescriptions here also provoke suspicion regarding our intention. While we have touted a dissatisfaction with the disclosure of truth as our motivation, is this perhaps a mere cover up? And would it be more honest of us to say that our platform for governance-as-projection is a mere bid to preserve “the nation” following the threat of dissolution in our globalizing economy? We should answer immediately, “no”. Despite our appeals to the political canvases of the United States, Europe, and Russia we should not be mistaken that nurturing truth or authenticity by way of governance-as-projection demands a commitment to the preservation of the historical ethnos of those countries, or any other, outright. This article series has remained, from its inception, an economic reform proposal. And while it seems evident that national ethnos has been sacrificed in a liberation of economic policy and subsequent globalization, we cannot use a schematic of ethnos to pursue society. Let this be clear. Our prescriptions would be unbelievable naïve if we simply assumed the role of the anthropologist to prescribe a return to the American, Brittan, or Russian ethnos. No doubt, the economy in which the American ethnos originated belongs to yesterday. Therefore, that ethnos is impossible to reach here and now. Of course, any idolization of historical ethnos may guide activity towards the future. We admit this. Yet, that future is something which must be written in those future moments. Of course, at the same time, this does not neutralize, or in any way negate, our spirit for conservation. Our conservatism champions for authenticity, so as to prevent authenticity from becoming engulfed by a material technological progress. Our prescriptions embody a progressive-conservative spirit. This spirit describes the behavior which acts in accordance with the promise of a future in which authenticity is liberated, such that the material substrate of man is in service to authenticity. In fact, we understand that any material infrastructure can only be built upon that which is already in service to authenticity.
Of course, from the position of anyone prioritizing equal opportunity our prescriptions might appear as “missing the mark”. Perhaps for those who champion Medical for All they might appear half-assed. However, we understand that material welfare can only be built upon the conditions which allow for its sustainability. We understand those conditions as intimacy and listening, sympathy and understanding, trust and security for disclosure. Here we are referring to condition which can only be felt in the moment, measured through election. But once felt, this condition proceeds consequently to public welfare infrastructure. In as much, we understand that any prescriptions for further public infrastructure — that is, social welfare programs by way of a nationalizing of industry — which are not built upon the prescriptions of this proposal will be premature. Therefore, for those with such concerns our prescriptions should be considered strategic.
The vision which we stand within calls after those who are humbled before it — in order to understand it’s promises. This vision calls after those who can embody those promises, those who have the capacity for such embodiment, those who understand this vision promises civic engagement toward the goal of society. We only hope that in this moment of our journey — the one toward liberation — we stand beside economic reformers who understand the promises of this vision, those who can embody those promises, that we ourselves may be those economic reformers.
Justin Carmien, March 30th, 2021