The word “modernity” is something of a shibboleth in Rightist circles, as it is almost always used as a byword for everything debauched, depraved, degenerate or, put quite simply, not traditional. In fact, the Right has defined its entire identity as a wing on the political spectrum by being directly opposed to modernity in every form that the Modern project has taken; whether that be birth of rationalism, secularism, the egalitarian ideas associated with Enlightenment Era liberalism or the more contemporaneous Postmodern project with its hyper-individualism, deconstruction, critical theory, poststructuralist philosophy and an overall denial of capital “T” truth.
Because of this, it’s no secret that those on the Right have been branded as “reactionaries” by their Leftist counterparts, for good reason of course. Being in opposition as we are to ongoing forms of subversion that the Left continually cranks out century after century: be it the genocide in the Vendee, the Stalinist Purges, the horrors committed by the Khmer Rouge, the Cultural Revolution of Maoist China, the destruction of the traditional family, the sexualization of children, the ethnographic displacement of Europeans in their native countries, the enabling of American neoliberal imperialism by being patsies of the Federal Empire of United States—the Left throughout its political history has much to atone for, and the Right was always right to oppose it in every single circumstance.
However, it needs saying that the situation has changed, and this article is not meant to be a diatribe listing off the various grievances committed by the Left towards the Western or even the developing world, although such a task would be easy. The problem today lies with the Right and how it has approached the crisis of the Postmodernity.
I previously said that it was for good reason that the Left has labeled the Right as being “reactionaries” against modern “progress,” as if it were even possible to quantity such a thing. But what the Right, and Traditionalists especially, fail to realize is that modernity has already won, and any “revolt” against either the modern or postmodern world is effectively a fool’s errand.
Traditionalists, and more to the point Traditionalist Conservatives, earnestly yet foolhardily believe that it’s still possible to hold out against modern decadence, against the creep of postmodern subversion; that if we all just became Traditionalist Catholics (or whichever conservative denomination of Christianity, take your pick) who have big families, go to church on Sunday and become Thomists or Palamists or whatever, then somehow, someway, through God’s unerring grace, the Western world will experience a religious revival and we’ll finally have the sheer numbers to march through the halls of power in the capitals of the West and retake our place as Christendom!
Utter. Fucking. Hogwash.
Western Christendom died in 1917-18 in the destructive aftermath of the First World War which saw the dissolution of the last authentic Christian monarchies in Europe. Any hope at for real conservative revolutionary movement founded on Christianity and monarchy is I believe, however well intentioned, doomed to failure. I take no pleasure in saying this, though. I, myself, am a monarchist—and a firm one. But even I can read the writing on the proverbial wall and acknowledge that the age of God-ordained Christian monarchs has long since passed into history and, at the present time at least, is unlikely to experience any kind of revival.
The other reaction towards modernity on the Right has been the option put forward by anarcho-primitivists, which is to say, to go off the grid and hunker down until post-industrial society eventually burns itself out due to resource exhaustion, overpopulation, and the breakdown of public order, praying to the old gods that the Federal Empire eventually goes down in a sea of flames.
This is the position assumed by many eco-fascists who, despairing at the lack of political progress made by the Right since the implosion of the AltRight, have deemed the situation to be hopeless; have bowed their heads in despair and concluded that only by retreating innawoods and holding out until the Postmodern hellscape eventually collapses due to its own contradictory existence. But here’s the thing about the Postmodern hellscape: you can’t escape it. The hellscape is global matrix of human thought, activity and information that touches every corner of the inhabited planet, absorbing every-thing and every-body into a pulsating, liquid web of hyperreality.
The cultural critic and writer Mark Fisher once wrote that “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine a future without capitalism.” This has been our reality since the end of the Cold War. Neoliberal capitalism has long since emerged triumphant since the collapse of Soviet Communism and the command economy. Not even Marxists of the Contemporary Era, such as those of the Frankfurt School and the French poststructuralists, let alone Fisher himself, believed that an end to capitalism was nigh or that Communism, or orthodox Marxism more generally, was bound to experience a resurgence in the West or anywhere else in the developing world.
And history has overall borne this sentiment to be correct, Fukuyama’s declaration that history had “ended” being notwithstanding. Since the beginning of what we can call Postmodernity, which I personally think began with the early 1980s, the trajectory of the world has been one towards liberal democracy and the free market. Pious libertarians may disagree with me on that last bit, however, but I stand firm with what I have just said. Ever since the advent of the Bretton Woods system of economics back in 1944, the world has seen the decline of what we can consider to be “national” economies, which have come to be replaced by a “liquid” economy of credit and finance. This has meant that the gold standard, once central to the economies of the West, has become obsolete, and the global economy has come subservient to the system of fiat currency tied to the International Monetary Fund and the US dollar.
Indeed, almost central to the conditions which made Postmodernity possible was the decline of a State-planned economy and the rise of liquid currency and finance capital. To a postmodern reader, the very idea of State-planned or nationalist economy conjures up images of the Five-Year Plans of Soviet Russia or the autarchic drive towards the securing of self-sufficient empires common to the expansionistic regimes of European fascism. But these historical examples represent an excessive response to the encroaching dominion of finance-capitalism, as the regimes associated with these ideologies primarily saw themselves as resisting its influence.
The victory of liberal democracy and the Bretton Woods system of economics only represents one possible future to what could have replaced the Modern project which began with Peace of Westphalia and the growth of anti-monarchical revolutions that culminated with the Enlightenment. Truthfully, it is entirely possible, though incredibly unlikely, that our version of a future after modernism could have been defined by either Soviet-style Communism or even a global Reich where National Socialist Germany and her allies emerged victorious over the Allies.
While trying not to sound too much like a fatalist, I think that capitalism, neoliberalism, and liberal democracy were bound to win out in their battle for the future against the other two great political theories. This is also something that postmodern Marxists such as Frederick Jameson also accept, but only bitterly; namely, that capitalism and liberal democracy have only been as successful as they have because they are able to efficiently reproduce themselves in every political environment they have been introduced to, despite whatever consequences these systems naturally bring with them.
But the struggle between political ideologies and economic doctrines represented only one aspect of the crisis of the modern world, which we could perhaps call High Modernity (1940-1980). This period of modern history is significant because it succeeded the decline of the last European monarchies, by then already relics of a time that no longer made sense, as well as the last vestiges of access to the Traditional world.
Late Modernity, or Postmodernity (1980-present), represents that period of history where liberalism began its triumphant march towards global prominence, and the messianic religion of Communism heralded by the Soviet Union and the “People’s Democracies” of Eastern Europe could only push back against the waxing tide of its eventual ascent.
But now it is liberalism, standing alone as the Pantokrator at the end of history, that has become the target of revolt for any group of dissenters who are disgusted with the reign of capital and the pathological culture of subversion that it has produced. This is where we are now; and the critics of liberalism are found across the spectrum of both the Left and the Right.
The Right has always been against liberalism since its inception in the Jacobin Revolution. Criticism of liberalism abounds among monarchists, nationalists, neo-fascists, and Radical Traditionalists who are quick to denounce liberal modernity for its replacement of metaphysics with rationalism, hierarchy with egalitarianism, and the volksgemeinschaft with multiculturalism.
Left-wing criticisms of liberalism are almost always, but not exclusively, found with Marxist apologists or on the more anarchist fringes of the Left. However, recently a movement within the libertarian Left has emerged calling themselves the Metamodernists.
Metamodernism has its origins as a Dutch school of cultural criticism and architectural theory which was eventually picked up by writers Daniel Görtz and Emil Friis, collectively writing under the name Hanzi Freinacht. It should be noted that Görtz and Friis (or should we say Freinacht?) were introduced to the term Metamodernism by Danish author Morten Overgaard, who himself is not Left-wing. Regardless, Metamodernism, since Freinacht’s publication of The Listening Society back in 2017, has been the primary intellectual movement of the libertarian Left. Other names associated Metamodernism are Luke Turner, the author of The Metamodernist Manifesto (2011), religious scholar Brendan Graham Dempsey, Canadian writer Brent Cooper and The Warden Post’s own Justin Carmien.
Metamodern criticism of liberalism, much like that from the dissident Right, is primarily centered around capitalist economic-expansionism, but also includes, as to be a expected from the Left, critiques about wealth equality, racial injustice, environmental degradation and, most interestingly, the psychological pathologies that affect people living within capitalist systems.
What the Metamodernists want is to replace capitalism and liberal democracy with is a fairer, more just, “transpersonal” system known as the Listening Society, a kind of greatly expanded social welfare system that focuses on human social and psychological development from childhood to adulthood. Well get to the problems inherent in such a “Listening Society” in a minute, for now I want to continue with the topic of this essay.
It needs saying that the Metamodernists of Hanzian stripe, much like the Radical Traditionalists, both agree that the Postmodern paradigm is ending. However, where they disagree heavily is what exactly it gets replaced with. Metamodernists adhering to the Nordic Ideology (the political philosophy of Hanzi Freinacht) envision an “eco-socialist” solarpunk utopia where a world without borders is governed democratically, almost anarchistically, and people are free to live authentically without the problems that once plagued the liberal democracies of the former capitalist world.
I am under no such illusions that a better world than the one we have is just around the corner. As it stands, this is as good as it gets, and already the situation is looking bleak to my eyes. “The past is a first world country,” so goes a popular Right-wing proverb. To think that somehow all the problems facing the Postmodern period—sudden and drastic climate change, resource wars caused by scarcity, ethnic and racial conflicts on a global scale, the decline of moral decency and public trust in civic institutions—the people of West have a lot to be concerned about as it stands, and I highly doubt the political Metamodernism put forward by the likes Görtz and Friis is readily prepared to deal with the seriousness of the situation that post-industrial civilization faces in the 21st Century.
Among all the well-intentioned, but ultimately hopeless optimists, that make up Metamodernism as an intellectual movement, it is only Brent Cooper who seems to understand the gravity of the situation we are in.
Cooper is unusual when it comes to the myriad of personalities that make up Metamodernism as such, in that he seems to lack the kind of idealism so characteristic of people who involve themselves in those kinds of circles. Regrettably, I have not had much time to familiarize myself with much of his work, but I suspect, based on what I have read of what he’s written, and from my brief personal conversation with the man himself, that Cooper belongs to a kind of more “orthodox” form of Left-wing Postmodernism, probably post-Marxian, and probably rooted in the thinking of figures such as Debord, Camus and Baudrillard, if I had to take a guess.
In fact, Cooper is the only figure involved with Metamodernism who struck me as a serious academic, and not merely a philosophaster play-acting as an intellectual. As of October of 2020, it seems as though Cooper has distanced himself from the Metamodern movement, seemingly due to his disappointment in its inability to address the serious issues that I have previously outlined. Cooper’s last piece, entitled The Hypermodern Way to Hell, published on Medium on October 14th of last year, seems to signal a departure with Metamodernism entirely. Cooper begins by saying,
“Metamodernism is dead; hypermodernity usurped it. The exponential growth of capitalism and technology is taking credit for what’s good in the world while eroding the human spirit and the literal ground of being; from the soil beneath our feet to the toil between our tweets. This is the violent thrust of hypermodernism — unethical technological and social relations bringing the martian landscape to us at the speed of blight. The ongoing political crisis has been over-determined by unbridled greed, ego, and incompetence on the part of elites and masses alike, exacerbated by technology and media.”
Already this seems to indicate a break with Metamodernism on Cooper’s part, opting instead that hypermodernism, and thus Hypermodernity, have come to replace Postmodernity as both an historical epoch and a temporal junction within space-time. Hypermodernism typically refers to the intensification of the modern, or postmodern, condition. Here, Cooper uses the term to describe a condition in which the modern experience, radically amplified by technology, exacerbates the excesses associated with capitalist economic-expansionism and the reification of culture. Again, Cooper writes,
“Hypermodernism is postmodernism put into overdrive by technology, speed, and consumption, in the spirit of the modern (which is by no means neutral, but rather colonial). The word hypermodern has different precise usages (in chess and art, for example) but in culture it broadly refers to the excessive technological and socio-economic exploitation characteristic of late stage capitalism, with neofeudalism and neofascism in tow. While the hypermodern discourse is seeded by thinkers like Baudrillard and Virilio, their work is situated at the edges of the postmodern, prefigurative of the more explicit hypermodernism that comes later.”
Hypermoderism is the intensification of the modern (or postmodern) condition in which technology reorients objects and their individual reference points based upon their identity as objects or perceived usefulness rather than their functionality. In this sense, Hypermodernity is Late Capitalism put in excelsis.
Hypermodernism is characterized by its inherent technocentrism. Unlike under Postmodernity where the value of an object or an idea was determined by a kind of moral relativism or subjectivity or, was more frequently the case, how such an object, idea or action fit within the narrative being presented by critical theorists, hypermodernism rearranges what constitutes a value judgement based upon individual subjectivism and a kind of simulation of reality where what constitutes reality, again, as such, is determined by a kind of mass consensus driven by the rapid growth of technological advancement.
Social media plays a huge role in the development of hypermodernism. In fact, it would be impossible to speak of hypermodernism at all if were not for the evolution of the Internet and social media culture. For example, the Trump victory in 2016 would have been impossible without the dedicated soldiers who served in the Great Meme War which propelled him to the Oval Office. Cooper laments that such examples of culture jamming only represent the Far Right’s unconscious determinedness to bring Hypermodernity into full fruition.
To summarize, hypermodernism represents a scenario where a battle between technology and the human spirit, as well as the ecology of our planet, is being played out, and Cooper believes, and has even told me himself, that the Right can only exacerbate, not combat, the dominion that technological supremacy and Capital’s global prominence play over the course of human affairs. Writing,
“For the moment, hypermodernism would seem to be a more salient frame than metamodernism, because it helps contextualize the failure of metamodernism thus far, the impotence of research in general, and its capture by various reactionary forces and anti-intellectual traps. After all, those from the political right — during the latest peak of a right wing authoritarian and regressive wave no less — who have either rejected or tried to colonize metamodernism, are actually its hypermodern foil.”
This last sentence is clear allusion to the Meta-Right, a contemporary movement that is still in its infancy, and possibly the Propertarian movement that was still active at the time before its untimely (but ultimately inevitable) implosion. On this point, however, I must politely disagree with Brent. It is the Right, not the Left, that offers the only way out of the Hypermodern highway-to-hell (or the Postmodern hellscape, pick whatever term you like). This is because the political Left either doesn’t understand, or refuses to realize, that it operates in the service of neoliberalism, and therefore the same corporate oligarchical framework which Cooper himself is denouncing.
Capitalism thrives off of social atomization, and the postmodern Left has always put the primacy of the individual over one’s obligation to the group, even when the postmodern Left does make overtly sentimentalist or morally gushy appeals about the welfare of “the people” or “the community.” The fact is, the Left might like to praise the uniqueness and the cultural identity of the Black “community” or the Latinx “community” or the LGBTQI “community.” But these communities are, for the most part, but not always, artificially contrived, or invented ad hoc.
Almost two-dozen companies, that I’m aware of at least, but probably more, have donated financial support to BLM and various “racial equity” groups since George Floyd was murdered last year, as Jim Goad also notes in an article he published that same year. Yahoo Finance has also released a list of 55 brands that have come out in support of Pride Month this last June. This list only represents the tip of the proverbial gay iceberg, however, as nearly every single major corporation, as well as many minor companies, are obligated to throw their pinch of incense onto the altar of the god of Progress and Tolerance™ by changing their respective logos to ones that feature a rainbow theme on their social media accounts.
Obviously, the evil corporate oligarchs and kleptocrats don’t have a problem with love and tolerance and fighting the good fight against Right-wing bigotry. No, in fact, it suffices to say that the corporate world and high finance are the primary engine which both drives and funds the myriad campaigns for social justice and “inclusiveness.” Anything else is just a big fat cope on the part of Left-wing dissidents who can’t accept that they’re no longer the rebels sticking it to the man anymore.
But my problem isn’t with identity politics. I don’t even have a problem if these supposedly disaffected minorities want to rally around their own sense of shared identity in the face of an imagined “White Supremacy.” I just want them to honest about their motives.
And honesty is key here: especially when we’re talking about identity. What Cooper doesn’t realize, and this applies to the rest of the Left more broadly, Metamodern or otherwise, is that labels such as Black or Hispanic or Queer aren’t not actually indicators of any form of authentic identity, let alone represent historical groups that are imagined or are thought to possess grievances against White Supremacy (again, another meaningless term) or Western colonialism. They’re essentially catch all terms which are meant to be group-labels for racial minorities which are either incapable or unwilling to assimilate into the historic American nation, as well as the rest of the Western world.
Instead of saying Black, say Afrikan. Instead of Latinx, Chicano. Instead of appealing towards a vague conception of “Whiteness,” choose to imagine a plurality of European-descended nations of the North American continent: Cascadians, Dixians, New Englanders, Québécois, Albertans. The former terms only posit a vague racial categorization, itself defined in opposition to the even vaguer term of “Whiteness.” The latter ethnonyms refer to peoples in a living, authentic and metahistorical sense.
In this way, we are making an appeal to a future after American imperialism, after the neoliberal world order, after Postmodernity and even after the political unity of the United States. In this way, we are truly making an appeal toward a different kind of Metamodernism than the one envisioned either by Cooper or Freinacht. However, I dare not suggest that such a future will better for the vast majority of human beings. In fact, I imagine that there will be a great deal of suffering involved.
But once the convergence of catastrophes has come and gone, I hope that the former previously so-called disadvantaged groups that once made up the United States, as well as the European descended peoples who defined its institutions, will be able to express themselves organically and in the historical territories that they each embody and call home. I personally don’t believe this separation will be peaceful, and I imagine that authorities that serve the Federal Empire will do whatever is necessary to prevent a secessionist movement from gaining traction within the territory that it occupies. Potential political disintegration, coupled with the threat of climate change and the ongoing reality of mass migration from the Global South to the Western world, make for some troubling times ahead of us to say the least.
I now want to turn to another writer who is something of an authority on the subject of hypermodernism: Michael Aaron Kamins. On a post he wrote, also on Medium, Kamins writes that Hypermodernity is the result of a “semiotic excess” of the “Hyper-” in hypermodernism, which he says is synonymous with the metaphysical category of the Absolute or Hegel’s “sum of all being.”
For Kamins, the Hyper represents a “nominalized literalization” of the Absolute, which, in Traditional metaphysics, was something wholly transcendent and unknowable, but carried with it an immanentizing force that governed the day to day actions and ways of experiencing and thinking about the world that were typical of all civilizations of a Traditional type. Kamins goes on to say that,
“At the end of Western Metaphysics (“Philosophy understood as Platonism”), the Absolute was freed from all metaphysical containers. But w/out a transcendental referent for the Absolute (for example as an attribute of a transcendent god, soul, or Platonic idea), and not being able to dissolve (or de-nominalize) a now reified Absolute back into the immanent pluralities (of primary experience), the Absolute fell into our average-everyday world — or into the colloquially “real.” […] This is a process of sublimation or volatilization — the alchemical sublimatio: becoming vapor; hence, the autochthonous emergence in 2011 of the icon of the Cloud (icloud). Notice how the Cloud fills the “semiotic vacancy” that was left behind since the erasure of the cross from our social and institutional spaces ( — in the United States the Cloud is even more conspicuous than the National flag).”
Kamins contrasts “liquid modernity,” a term coined by Jewish-Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman to describe Postmodernity, with the ongoing tendencies observable within hypermodernism which Kamins alternatively calls “vapor modernity.” Vapor modernity, and therefore hypermodernism, represent a condition within modernity as whole where the idea of a metaphysical Absolute, far from being consigned to the dustbin of history by the rationalistic onslaught of the Scientific Revolution, instead bifurcates the transcendent into categories, such as the subject/object distinction or even the distinction between being and non-being found within currents of existentialism. Kamins says,
“After the medieval era and throughout the modern, the major onto-epistemic (or metaphysical) infrastructure would still hold the Absolute in place — as the absolute categories, for example, of rational and empirical realism and the absolute distinctions they drew between concepts (e.g, the Cartesian heritage of subject/ object, intensive/extensive, etc.; or the Transcendental categories of Kantianism and the absolute closure of the noumenal). But eventually that infrastructure would be stripped of its “transcendental signifieds” like the bolts that held together the structural frame of a skyscraper — and by the middle of the Twentieth century, not much of it remained that wasn’t yet in the heap of melting slag and fallen sky.”
These categories need not be antithetical opposites or even represent a kind of dichotomy between two opposing concepts. Rather, what matters is the immanentization of the Absolute into hyperreality. What was once wholly transcendent has now become materialized, or rather, been rendered as de-materialized and has now become and inescapable part of our daily lives. God, or the gods, once considered to be far off, distant, and inaccessible to mortal man, have now been brought down to earth, and have become monochromatic semiotes that have been absolutized to the point mania.
This would explain, as Kamins points out, why the obsession with mundane signifiers such as race, gender and sexual orientation have flared up into becoming the main driving forces behind the ongoing culture war, especially in this last decade. These obvious differences between human beings have now been put front in center into our daily lives—again, it bears repeating because of the effects of cultural distortion—and each and every one of them has now taken on the role of the Absolute, much like Leibniz’s Monads. Kamins writes,
“According to the psychologist Wolfgang Giegerich, the Absolute is not only no longer a quality of the transcendental but it shows up as the absolute demand that is a psychopathology or a neurosis today. An agoraphobic is not merely afraid of stepping outside, they are absolutely afraid (phobic); just like an addict is not merely chemically dependent on one or another substance, which most human beings are (e.g., caffeine, nicotine, etc.) they are absolutely dependent; and just like the fetishist is absolutely obsessed, etc. (I could go on) — and the claim these neuroses make upon us is structurally similar to the way God or the Spirit or the True, the Good and the Beautiful were, once upon a time, absolute and made the absolute claims upon us.”
Kamins warns of the dangers of the absolutization of these semiotic categories, going on to caution against the dangers such a volatile atmosphere could potentially pose. However, he chooses to end on a good note and, unlike Brent Cooper, believes the ever-expanding role that technology plays in our lives, and the ways that it impacts our own conscious involvement in the world, offers new possibilities that dissident communities can potentially take advantage of.
So far, we have talked a great deal about hypermodernism, and not so much about Metamodernism. It suffices to say that hypermdoernism has been the entire subject of this article thus far. An attentive reader may be wondering, “Why, then, did you not choose to title this piece as Hypermodernity in Crisis?” My answer to the reader would be that hypermodernism is the crisis of Metamodernity, specifically, of its coming into being.
Metamodernism, and thus the concept of Metamodernity, means a great many things to the great many people who are involved in the kinds of circles that are imagining a future after Postmodernism. What I mean by “Metamodernity” is certainly not what the likes of Hanzi Freinacht believe it to be—a libertarian socialist solarpunk utopia of gleaming white cities of ceramic and glass incorporating hanging gardens and ascending green terraces into their architecture, lush with vegetation; of happy non-binary lesbian couples of indiscernible racial backgrounds walking hand in hand on a sunny afternoon down a spacious avenue lined with bistros and coffee shops while the soft sounds of afrofuturist music can be heard playing in the background. No, by Metamodernism, I mean something much, much different.
The term Metamodernism, in my mind, means something along the lines of Post-postmodernism. Of course, Post-postmodernism is itself a very vague, nebulous, and opaque term that doesn’t really conjure up anything specific in the mind of the reader. Metamodernism, as a term, is far more well established, and academically accepted for that matter, when van den Akken and Vermeulen first introduced it into the vernacular back in 2010.
According to the two Dutch architectural theorists, Metamodernism, more than anything else, represents a “structure of feeling” that “oscillates” between modernism and postmodernism. Since then, this has been the accepted definition of the term from Freinacht, to Cooper, to Carmien, to Eidolon. But here is where we run into a problem: we on the Right want nothing to do with modernism, post-, meta-, hyper-, or otherwise. We are against modernity, as well as its presuppositions, in every form that it has manifested, or can possibly manifest itself.
Or, at least, this is what we have generally believed.
The problem lies with the fact that appealing toward an “oscillation” between modernism and postmodernism makes no sense and has no relevance anywhere within Rightist circles. However, new trends have emerged that may attempt to show what direction a kind of Right-wing Post-postmodernism may look like. From the late Sixties to early Seventies onward, the French New Right, or the Nouvelle Droite, has been the leading movement to have disseminated Rightist metapolitical ideas, interestingly, from a non-reactionary perspective. In particular, and of the greatest interest to us, is Guillaume Faye’s 1998 book Archeofuturism.
I’m not going to get into the details of the book, as such as review would require its own article, perhaps even a series of articles. However, what Faye posits in his book is that a post-collapse society, centered around what is called a “two-tiered” world economy, would allow for agrarian, localist and traditional communities to thrive under the protection and stewardship of highly advanced, techno-futurist core settlements that participate in global affairs.
Faye’s was the first book to come out of the Right, that I’m aware of at least, to seriously address what a future after the convergence of catastrophes (again, another reference to a book authored by Faye) might look like. Archeofuturism is more of a thought experiment than anything else, much like The Listening Society, but in both cases each of the authors attempt to chart out what a future after liberalism, capitalism and Postmodernity might look like, albeit from drastically different positions.
Also, of note is the Fourth Political Theory of Alexandr Dugin, which is essentially an attempt to fuse Radical Traditionalism with postmodernism, as well as the “Prometheism” of Jason Reza Jorjani, itself a kind of bizarre combination of transhumanism and Nietzschean ideas. In any case, both examples seem to point towards a much different kind of oscillation than the one first envisioned by both van den Akken and Vermeulen.
Put simply, if Left-metamodernism can be described as the oscillation between the poles of modernism and postmodernism, then Right-metamodernism can just as equally describe the oscillation between traditionalism and futurism.
Another idea worth mentioning is the term “Reactionary Modernism” which was first introduced into academia by Jeffrey Herf during the 1980s to describe the aesthetics of the Revolutionary Conservative movement, and the National Socialists who replaced them, who enthusiastically embraced the changes brought by technology, but rejected the values of the Enlightenment and the institutions of liberal democracy. The government of Saddam Hussein and the Islamic Republic of Iran have also been described as Reactionary Modernist, and the term has can also be applied to the California Ideology of Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron and perhaps the Neoreactionary movement formed by Mencius Moldbug and Nick Land as well.
All these emerging tendencies tend to point towards a new direction in which the Right is inching ever closer toward, a direction in which it seems to be abandoning the old classical liberal or Traditional Conservative assumptions about life, culture, and society. Of interest to us, however in this case, is a new bourgeoning current of thought known as the Meta-Right.
The Meta-Right as a label emerged many moons ago as a thought experiment by internet nomad and connoisseur of linguistic ontology Kashif Vikaas. In fact, it was Vikaas himself who introduced to me Metamodernism, long before I knew anything about Hanzi or The Listening Society. Vikaas himself has been wary to put down a hard definition for what Right-metamodernism truly is, and has allowed it to become rather eclectic, often taking in and overlapping with many, sometimes contradictory, currents of thought and political philosophy. I must admit, I have (rather unashamedly) used the Meta-Right as a vehicle for my own ideas, testing them, as in a laboratory, against other, radically opposing points of view.
The existence of the Meta-Right has been something of a thorn in the testicle of Hanzi Freinacht, who seems unwilling to allow political Metamodernism, both as a term and as current of thought, to be appropriated by elements of the dissident Right who are dissatisfied with the moral stuffiness and backward-looking nolstalgism of more orthodox Traditionalists.
I had mentioned previously that I wanted to go over the problems that I believe would prove fatal to the Listening Society, if it ever had a chance to be brought to fruition that is, but first I want to go over the points of Freinacht’s Metamoderism that I actually agree with. The following are extracts from The Listening Society.
In the opening prologue for his book, Freinacht writes,
“All […] these movements and ideologies are stuck in the mindset of party politics that evolved from industrial society, with its classes and its issues. None of them actually offer us anything new, or anything that might substantially improve our lives in a way that would compare to the building of modern liberal democracy with a market economy and welfare state” (Freinacht 3).
This is true. Liberal and social democracy are so deeply rooted in the West that is virtually impossible to imagine a future without them. However, that seems to be changing. The wave of populism, from both the Left and the Right, is attempting to challenge the neoliberal world order. Criticism of capitalism also seems to be finding wider acceptance, again, on both on the Left and the Right, as the kind of Reaganomics embraced so piously by the Republican Party and the market neoliberalism of the Democrats in the United States no longer makes sense to a generation where the standard of living once offered in this country is no longer attainable.
We agree also with the statement that “Politics means games for power.” and that, “Power matters in all aspects of life” (Freinacht 11). I have already written about this issue at length, and in another article, so I don’t feel the need to go deeper into our shared views about the nature of power here. I also agree with the need to “cultivate a deeper kind of welfare system that includes the psychological, social and emotional aspects of human beings” (Freinacht 72). Of which, Hanzi writes,
“We are talking about generativity—i.e. the propensity of society as a cultural, economic and social-psychological system to, on average and over time, generate the conditions for psychological thriving and growth to occur” (Ibid).
I, too, concur with this idea. We need more generativity in our societies, much more; and Metamodern politics should “aim to make everyone secure at the deepest psychological level that we can live authentically” (Freinacht 81). However, I would argue that generativity is maximized within those populations that are small, high trust, ethnically homogenous, and have a low time preference. I imagine that Hanzi would disagree with me on this point.
I also agree that the individual is not the subject of focus when it comes to determining the foundation of a civilized and prosperous society. In that regard, I am very inclined towards Freinacht’s concept of transindividualism which Hanzi describes as being able,
“To really see the singular human being, to really respect her rights and uniqueness, we must go beyond the idea of the individual; we must see through it and strive to see how society is present within each single person as well in the relationships through which she is born as a ‘self’. We go from the idea of the individual (vs. ‘the collective’) to simply seeing society as an evolving, interlinked set of transindividuals” (Freinacht 128).
And further on, he goes to say:
“The idea of the transindividual sees the human being as inseparable from her language, her deep unconsciousness, her relations, roles, societal positions, values, emotions, developmental psychology, biological organism and so forth. Each human being is viewed as an open and social process, a whirlwind of participation and co-creation of society. Society as a whole is viewed as a self-organizing system which creates such transindividuals who are in turn able to recreate society” (Freinacht 129).
The following paragraphs are beautifully put by Freinacht. In fact, they almost come off as poetic. However, as can probably be expected, I tend to see the creations of such transindividuals under the lens of communitarianism or bioregionalism, which itself sees such transindividuals as inseparable from their languages, relations, roles, societal positions, values, etc. Actually, when I first read these two paragraphs, I was almost convinced that Freinacht was making an appeal to ethnonationalism. Silly me for thinking that, I guess.
In the area of social life, Hanzi and I have much to agree on, but doubtless we’re seeing this from entirely different angles and under completely different circumstances. Hanzi writes,
“The growing re-integration of these three different spheres of social life—the civic (politics, democracy, bureaucracy, public) the professional (market exchange) and the personal (the civil sphere, family life, communities)—requires of us a kind of political thought that does not take on these dimensions as fundamental or inherently superior to the other two. We must see the totality of social and political life” (Freinacht 140).
I honestly couldn’t put it better myself. Hanzi really is right on the mark here, this doesn’t need anymore elaboration from me. He concludes that social life “is of fractal nature, and that society consists of three interdependent dimensions that always repeat themselves but ultimately depend on one another: solidarity, trade and competition” (Ibid).
Lastly, Hanzi and I both agree on one essential thing that should be common to any Metamodernist, Left or Right, and that is that if are to have a fair, just and peaceful society, we must also forgo the empire building mindset that was so indicative of modernism. We both agree that,
“[…] the metamodern mind also realizes that an inclusive and harmonious society cannot be achieved within the confines of modern life or by means of a postmodern critique thereof. Hence, a new society must be created from the modern one, which means that the metamodernist must ultimately be against the modern one” (Freinacht 323).
As someone on the Right, I guess I have an easier time forgoing modernism than a leftie might have. Still, the modern myths surrounding progress, the drive towards newer and more extensive forms of technological advancement, must be tempered with a kind of localism and communitarianism that takes each and everyone’s needs into account, according to their station.
This, I believe, is where social nationalism plays a role. For a truly Metamodern Right to emerge, it must reject the mercantilist mindset that the accumulation of profit, capital and revenue is the be all, end all goal of life. Our nations, however we wish to define them, are our extended family. We owe it to ourselves, and to our people, to bear with their burdens and support them regardless of class, disability, or occupation.
Now that I’ve elaborated on what Hanzi Freinacht and I do have in common, I think it’s time I wrap things up by giving my thoughts on why political Metamodernism, of the kind that Freinacht puts forward, will ultimately never succeed in addressing the problems of the Post-postmodern age.
The problem with the Metamodernism of the Nordic school is that it doesn’t comprehend the seriousness of the World-situation that we have on our hands. Sure, it might make overtures or appeals toward things like climate change or some nonsense about the dangers of “right-wing authoritarianism,” but ultimately Metamodernism is nothing more than an intellectual thought experiment for a bunch of rootless, cosmopolitan urbanites with little to no grasp of reality.
If Metamodernism is to be a serious response to the crisis of Postmodernity (or Hypermodernity) then it needs saying that its foremost goal should be to plan and lay down the hypothetical groundwork for futures after postmodernism, but from the position of immanent collapse. This is the position which puts Hanzi, Cooper, and the rest of the Nordics at odds with myself.
The problem, though, is that Metamodernism, as it has been defined by the Hanzians, is nothing more than a parlor game for the Technorati, isolated away as they are from the harsh realities of daily life up in their high rise condominiums. And as such, the individuals who are expected to formulate Metamodernism thus far are totally detached from the political, social, economic, and demographic realities that average people across the Western world are currently facing. One can draw parallels to those Byzantine theologians who argued about how many angels could dance atop the head of a pin all the whole Ottoman canons pounded away at the Theodosian Walls.
Brent Cooper, in the introduction for his The Hypermodern Highway to Hell, provides a link to an article written by Jacobin’s Luke Savage who suggests that the post-industrialized world has only two choices going forward: eco-socialism or barbarism. I would argue that we have had only one choice, and the choice was already made for us, and that we never had a say in the matter—and that choice was barbarism.
Fantastical imaginings about an eco-socialist utopia were never possible. Ideals about perfection are permanent and static, but the nature of life is change. How anyone can take a step back to take a look and see the World-situation as it really is and not come away thinking that the entire planet is a massive dumpster fire is beyond me. And this is precisely the problem with Left-metamodernism.
I understand what makes Metamodern sensibilities “Metamodern” is having a sense of an “informed naivety” in the face of postmodern cynicism, but this is pushing it too far. Granted, I understand that Hanzi and friends truly want a democratic, nonviolent, and verdant world, but they are honestly out of the breadth here. The Left-metamodernism of the Nordic school is utterly incapable of dealing with the impending crisis on our hands; indeed, the crisis is already happening. And this can be plainly shown by their answer to “Green Social Liberalism,” the reigning meta-narrative of our age.
Social democracy is failing? The answer is more social democracy. People are becoming less spiritual in their daily lives due to the collapse of organized religion? The answer is atheism with a spiritual gloss. People are turning to populist movements and radical politics because they feel like their sense of shared identity is threatened? Obviously, they’re a bunch of superstitious bumpkins stuck at the level of the Postfaustian value meme. This list goes on and on.
Now we arrive at the crux of the matter: in the face of the ongoing decline of American imperial power, the growing draw of illiberal and forms of government and the continual ascent of Islamism in the Middle East—made even more evident by the recent Taliban victory in the War in Afghanistan—the “informed naivety” of Nordic Metamodernism has proven itself to be unqualified at addressing the geopolitical situation of the world in the 21st century.
The fact of the matter is that the presuppositions of the first Modern project, which began with Enlightenment Era liberalism, are collapsing. The Postmodern project that sought to address the problems with modernism after the devastation of the First and Second World Wars has itself proven to be unsatisfactory. What is needed is to wipe the slate clean, to sacrifice the values of Enlightenment on the very altar of modernity itself. What is needed is a new Enlightenment for a future of modernity after liberalism. A Dark Enlightenment 2.0—only this time without the cringey obsession with capitalism and the free market characterized its first incarnation—is, I believe, the only option that remains open to us in the face of catastrophic change.
In conclusion, the surest method to measure the success or failure of any program, policy or set of ideas is to judge them by their fruits. Sweden, held up by Freinacht as the prime exemplar for a potential testing ground for Metamodern ideas, is itself expected to devolve into Third World status by no sooner than 2030 according to a recent UN report.
The success of Scandinavian socialist democracy was only possible because of the post-war boom economy and the high trust, ethnically homogenous nature of the Nordic countries. The assumption that somehow, someway, you could impose Left-metamodern values on the rest of the world outside of Northern Europe through “education” or social conditioning through the Listening Society is not only incredibly ethnocentric, but racist in the most chauvinistic way. It also ignores the ongoing demographic crisis in Europe, exacerbated by the continual influx of Sub-Saharan Africans and Magians who I personally believe that Freinacht imagines to miraculously turn into Nordics as soon as they set foot on the European side of the Mediterranean.
The gravest error of Left-metamodernism is assuming that democratic, peaceful, tolerant, and economically sustainable societies are result of the values of the people who created them and not, as really is, a product of the people who created those societies. Values count for nothing if the people with whom they originated with no longer make up a majority in their own countries. Western peoples create outposts of Western civilization, the Chinese build Chinatowns wherever they go, Indians create diasporic communities that look and feel like India—this is true for any race, culture, or civilization. To believe anything else is sheer lunacy.
The assumptions that underpin Left-metamodernism are founded on what can perhaps be called the “iPhone mentality;” which is to say, the belief that everything keeps getting better. Nowhere in the political formula put forward by Freinacht is the possibility that the post-industrial world will one day go up in smoke. The idea of a civilizational collapse, hypothetical or otherwise, doesn’t figure into either the Listening Society or the Nordic ideology. Its almost as if the Left-metamodernists believe that Utopia is just around the corner, so close in fact, that they can almost taste it if it weren’t for the nefarious, regressive tendencies of those horrible Right-wing reactionaries.
This begs the question: how many more equality coins do we need to keep pumping into the progress machine until Utopia falls out? The answer is never specified. In fact, it cannot be given. The Green Social Liberalism 2.0 of the Nordic school is predicated upon an anachronistic faith in Whig historiography and progressive teleology which makes less and less sense with each passing year. Obviously, the way we understand the modern world and the postmodern condition fundamentally needs to change.
Here we are, at the tail end of the Postmodernity, smackdab in the middle of the temporal nexus where every political, economic, religious and ideological doctrine meet; intensified by the rapid advance of technology leading us, God-knows-where, to a destination not of our own choosing. This is hypermodernism as it really is. This is the crisis whose aftermath will culminate with the birth pangs announcing the Metamodern age.