The Listening Society: A Metamodern Guide to Politics, Book One
“Yeah, yeah, I get it, I get it. There’s this talk about something called ‘political metamodernism’. It is said to be a new ideology replacing and outcompeting liberal democracy and capitalism as we know them. Quietly, its proponents suggest, it is all but completely trashing socialism, liberalism, conservatism and ecologism, each on its own terms, leaving many people’s feelings hurt in the process. Political metamodernism has the capacity to gradually, but profoundly, change the lives of countless millions of people for the better, by cultivating a deeper kind of welfare system and economy—propelling us towards a saner, kindlier world. The welfare system part of this is called the listening society. All of this is said to slowly but surely be growing out of the cultural and economic development of the most progressive and advanced societies in the world, like the Nordic countries. And to understand and ally oneself with the listening society is both very useful to oneself and a service to mankind and all the other suffering animals. And it comes with certain risks, like all potent things do… But is it real?”
You have it all backwards, my friend. In a way, “is it real” is the dumbest question you can ask, if you quite understand what reality is. Reality is much more than the facts of the matter. The real reality resides at the crossroads of fact and fiction. It is born precisely at the point where our imaginations, the stories we tell ourselves, meet the facts of the world and put them into context. Political metamodernism becomes real by the rebellious act of telling a good story, a story that will both haunt and reward its listener.
The mix in this book is mostly fact and some dabs of fiction—meaning that I use emotions, dreams, aphorisms, mental images and some qualified guesses. I play with language and with the relationship with you, the reader.
But other than that, your summary was okay. Political metamodernism is the single most powerful ideology in existence in the world today and you would have to be an idiot not to want to learn about it. Whether you like it or not, whether you are for it or against it, you had better pay attention.
By the way, if the word “ideology” gives you the creeps, feel free to exchange it for “way of thinking and feeling about society”, which is something that we all undeniably have—even you.
This book is about you; your own intellectual and emotional development, as well as your place and status in the world. But it is also about society and relationships, about other humans and animals, about how a deeper sociological understanding of the world can help you serve compassionately, and why this is so.
Mixing fact and fiction is of course what children and the insane do. But upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that everybody does it. The question is only how consciously and productively it is done. I use dabs of “fiction” to make this book come alive as a political and cultural current of change. The difference between this approach and drier, more traditionally academic books on social science is that, in this book, the fictional part is owned up to. We take Hanzi’s role as an intellectual less seriously—and we take the necessarily fictional part of reality much more seriously. That is how the facts serve us best, with a spoonful of fictional sugar. But make no mistake; the bitter medicine must go down. And it does work.
Most political intellectuals, from Nancy Frazer to Milton Friedman, from Noam Chomsky to Arne Næss, put on these silly garbs to try to look serious and scientific, while they are all still emotionally invested in their ideas and have tearful (fictional) stories about what makes their own perspective the right one and themselves into the humble hero and servant of truth. I am hereby taking off that silly mask. And so should you, frankly. But how do you throw off the mask? By admitting that you are wearing it—and then using it more deliberately.
I am just going to tell the story straight and let you play with it. Because that’s where the action is. That’s where we change the world for real. Along the way we can have a beautiful, albeit dangerous, adventure. Politics, just like life itself, is always an experiment. We have to take risks. We have to be vulnerable to make a deeper impact for better or worse, to truly make a difference that makes a difference.
Political Metamodernism Is the Future
Who Is Hanzi Freinacht?
Readers of Bronze, Silver and Gold
Introduction: WHAT WE MUST ACHIEVE
This Book and the Next
Metamodernism: The Philosophical Engine
The Reader Rebels
Your Predictable Objections
More Predictable Objections
PART ONE: The New Political Landscape
1. HOW POLITICS CHANGED
The Most Progressive Countries in the World
One Meta-Ideology Has Already Won
There Is No “Center” of Politics
The Voter’s Raw New Deal
Newly Dug Trenches
Hackers, Hipsters and Hippies
Polarization and Trumpism Explained
The Multidimensional Crisis-Revolution
The Boom Equation
3. IN A NUTSHELL
The Basic Idea
Should We Really Make People Happy?
Don’t Scorn Happiness
The Fabric of Hurt and Bliss
Taking Up the Struggle
Accepting the Risks
4. POSSIBLE AND NECESSARY
Yes, It Is Possible
And, Yes, It Is Necessary
How It Connects to Everyday Life
An Empirical Example: Meditation in Schools
Emotional, Social and Collective Intelligence
Feeling Provoked Yet?
5. THE ALTERNATIVE
Party about Nothing
Got That Edge
The Metamodern Aristocracy
6. POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Transpersonal Perspective: Beyond Individuals
The View from Complexity
Beyond Left and Right, at Long Last
Liberal Innocence Lost
PART TWO: Psychological Development
7. ON STAGE THEORIES
A Missing Piece of the Puzzle
In Defense of Hierarchies among Humans
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Hierarchy
Introducing Adult Development
Domain-Specific Developmental Theories
“Global” Developmental Stage Theories
8. COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Meister L. Commons
The Model of Hierarchical Complexity (MHC)
What Is Intelligence? The Parrot Speaks
9. THE IMPORTANT STAGES
Stage 10 Abstract
Stage 11 Formal
Stage 12 Systematic
Stage 13 Metasystematic
No, I Still Can’t Believe It. I Won’t!
Implications for Society
10. SYMBOLIC DEVELOPMENT
Code and Cognitive Development
Teleology and Determinism?
11. THE SYMBOL-STAGES
The First Three Symbol-Stages: A, B and C
Symbol-Stage D: Postfaustian (or Traditional)
Symbol-Stage E: Modern
Symbol-Stage F: Postmodern
Symbol-Stage G: Metamodern
Last Notes on Symbol-Stages
12. SUBJECTIVE STATES
High States, Low States
The Scale of Subjective States
13. REACHING HIGHER
A Definition of “Spirituality”
What Everyday Life Feels Like on Average
What It Means to Develop Your State
Example of a “High State” Person
Can Lower States Be Good?
The Credibility Problem of Higher States
Why Spiritual Communities Turn Into Cults
Agony and Ecstasy
Beauty, Mystery and Tragedy
15. WISDOM TROUBLES
Light and Dark Depth
Wisdom Is Overrated
Of Wisdom and Wise-Guys
An Example from Bertrand Russell
16. EFFECTIVE VALUE MEME
The Awkward Uncle
Why “Spiral Dynamics” Doesn’t Work
From vMeme to Effective Value Meme
The Dimensions of Development Come Together
Zooming In on the Effective Value Memes
17. MAJOR IMPLICATIONS
Death to TURQUOISE
Higher Secularism Rising
Why Bother with Just a Baby?
Danger, Danger Cliché
Some Very Well-Needed Nuance
Developmental Imbalances Make You Sick
The Philosopher’s Stone
Rip Them Apart. Spare No One
Implications for a Global Society
18. DEVELOPMENT MATTERS
Higher Stage Populations
Why the Postmoderns Cannot Save the World
The Great Stretching Out
Three Meanings of “Metamodernism”
The Metamodern Paradigm, Condensed
Origins of the Term “Metamodernism”
The Difference between Post- and Metamodernism
Bringing a New Metamodernism into Being
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