What I call political metamodernism is a new perspective on politics. It changes not only how we do politics, but also what the role of politics in society is in the first place – and of course, it sets new goals for what we want to achieve in society, and it provides explanations for why.
Very basically, political metamodernism tries to bring about the society that comes after, and goes beyond, what we usually think of as “modern society”. Take a modern country today, like Sweden, and consider how different it is today – politically, socially and economically – from a century ago. And how very different its citizens are. Where did all the hackers, yoga people and feminist vegans come from, for one thing?
The Social Democrats of the early 20th century had an ideology – a vision, an idea of what the future welfare society might look like. In large parts, that society has successfully been materialized. But since a few decades, we have no such visions or goals – even as the world is changing more rapidly than ever and the technological possibilities are much greater than before. So where are the major political visions?
Seriously. Where are they? The Left works only to maintain the welfare state, the Greens to maintain the sustainability of our current civilization, the libertarian Right to boost economic growth and the nationalist or conservative Right seeks to maintain the old nation state in the face of immigration and globalization. All of these movements and ideologies are stuck in the mindset of party politics that evolved from industrial society, with its classes and 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 the modern liberal democracy with a market economy and welfare state. What is the equivalent of this system in the society of the future, a society we know is globalized, digitalized and postindustrial? In which direction can and should our society evolve?
The aim of political metamodernism is to take us from one “modern” stage of societal development (liberal democracy, party politics, capitalism, welfare state) to the next “metamodern” stage of development. It is aiming to outcompete liberal democracy as a political system, outcompete all of the political parties and their ideologies, outcompete capitalism as an economic system, and outcompete and replace our current welfare system. There. Did I get your attention?
Political metamodernism is built around one central insight. The king’s road to a good future society is personal development and psychological growth. And humans develop much better if you fulfill their innermost psychological needs. So we’re looking for a “deeper” society; a civilization more socially apt, emotionally intelligent and existentially mature.
There are three different parts of political metamodernism: The Listening Society is the welfare of the future, a welfare that includes the emotional needs and supports the psychological growth of all citizens. A society in which everyone is seen and heard (rather than manipulated and subjected to surveillance, which are the degenerate siblings of being seen and heard). Co-Development is a kind of political thinking that works across parties, works to keep ego-issues and emotional investments and biased opinions in check, and seeks to improve the general climate of political discourse: “I develop if you develop. Even if we don’t agree, we come closer to the truth if we create better dialogues and raise the standards for how we treat one another.”
The Nordic Ideology is my name for the political structure that would support the long-term creation of the listening society and make room for co-development. It is called the Nordic ideology because its early sprouts are cropping up in and around Scandinavia. It includes a vision of six new forms of politics, all of which work together to profoundly recreate society. A large part of this has to do with how to defend citizens from new sources of oppression that can emerge as a side-effect of a “deeper” society. These new forms of oppression are generally of a more subtle and more psychological kind than what we have seen in the 20th century.
So, these three things taken together are what I call political metamodernism. I have increasingly come to believe that political metamodernism is exceedingly useful for addressing society’s ailments, such as: the multifaceted ecological crisis; the instability of the economy; the excessive global inequalities; the widespread anxiety, or “alienation”, that modern people harbor; the challenges of global migration; the transition to a postindustrial, robotized and digitalized economy; and the challenges of transnational governance.
That’s why I believe, the listening society is the bridge that can take us, in a few generations, from the modern world, to a metamodern society.