THE METAMODERN WORLD
”Welcome to the bizarro metamodern world of sustainable destruction. Even though the ticket price includes the entire seat Ladies and Gentlemen, be advised – you will only be using the edge!”
LIVING IN THE WORLD WE USED TO WATCH ON TV AS KIDS
By Irwin FordIn 2000 Avery Smith demanded to know where the flying cars were in an IBM commercial as the metamodern world shifted into the turn of the century. We raised our eyebrows, not so much for our deprivation of flying cars, but for the deprivation of the core values of common decency in social governance, industrial design and innovation. Certainly the art world, social anthropology, science and civil engineering worlds have been colluding in our best interests for sustainability, but the advancement rate for much of this innovation is slowed by our collective commitment or obligations to self-imposed distractions.
Americans as a whole have been fairly well compartmentalized, whether it is through their allegiance to one political party or another, a certain manufacturer’s label or our fast food choices. Our systems of parental guidance, education and manufactured preferences have a great deal to do with how our society emerges. We are taught to adhere to superficial standards, made superficial by the betrayals of oaths and protocols sworn to by world leaders in the service of millions.
For an artist’s work to be more relevant to the metamodern world, some perception and understanding of the world around them is needed. Metamodernism is rife with cynical innuendo and whimsy and we have no shortage of that when it comes to geopolitics and or domestic issues at home. Once we’re exposed to what’s happening in the world outside of our protective sphere of America’s version of Elysium, it’s not so easy to ignore or tune out the bigger picture.
The Butterfly Effect of what we so shortsightedly cause with our good intentions to help people, whether it’s desire it or not, or cheat them in business, whether they want it or not, begets the tragically ludicrous geopolitical dysfunctions occurring today.
Current events in the metamodern world are nothing short of disconcerting. It is said that we reverberate between the modern and the postmodern with our sensibilities. We care; we don’t care. Now we selectively care and selectively respond to paradigms we know to be falsely constructed through conditioned responses that have come to be expected from our chosen or designated media outlets.
The outside world is alive with revolution and rebirth. While the majority of Americans are stumbling over their antiquated two party systems and naïve interpretations of political science, countries like Spain, Greece and Denmark are integrating political philosophies embodying more collectivist or socially intuitive structures. Podemos the new left philosophy born in Spain, SYRIZA in Greece and the Alternative in Denmark all reference a desire to find innovative social solutions that put representation, ecology and entrepreneurship under more egalitarian control.
“But even as I spoke I was thinking that that wasn’t the whole story. The whole story included an inconsistency, almost a betrayal. This man who believed only in people had got himself involved “in the subhuman mass-madness of nationalism, in the would-be super-human, but actually diabolic, institutions of the nation-state. He got himself involved in these things, imagining that he could mitigate the madness and convert what was satanic in the state to something like humanity. But nationalism and the politics of power had proved too much for him. It is not at the center, not from within the organization, that the saint can cure our regimented insanity; it is only from without, at the periphery. If he makes himself a part of the machine, in which the collective madness is incarnated, one or the other of two things is bound to happen. Either he remains himself, in which case the machine will use him as long as it can and, when he becomes unusable, reject or destroy him. Or he will be transformed into the likeness of the mechanism with and against which he works, and in this case we shall see Holy Inquisitions and alliances with any tyrant prepared to guarantee ecclesiastical privileges.” – From “Ape and Essence”, by Aldous Huxley.
The system of a representative republic as our form of democracy, presupposes that a free market capitalist system is the proper path to liberty, opportunity and self-sustainability. Even Marx respected the benefits of independence and a free market society. It was the antagonistic relationship between labor and capital that was at the root of his criticisms of capitalism. An observation put forth by many democratic socialists.
The world news is saturated with examples of the strong exploiting the weak and we have come to accept through life long indoctrination that the principles of liberty and equality are only possible in a country such as ours. Overwhelmingly so has this been prevalent in the corporate hierarchy. Neo-liberal economics or “faux-capitalism” has deftly hijacked by proxy, economies and governments around the world. Fueling or exploiting revolutions under the guise of liberation enables the continuous cycle of raping and pillaging of resources leading us to wonder, how much more sustainableDESTRUCTION can we continue to maintain?
When did three critical functions of any society (politics, sex and religion) become the three things you never talk about in public? Bragging about one’s sex life at the office is not a credible example, but a discussion about promiscuity or sex education on the other hand, cultivates constructive critique and a conscious awareness of an important issue. Political awareness and engagement is crucial to a society that desires individual autonomy for its citizens, while also crediting it with the intelligence to make informed decisions on a collective level.
As our economics expand from nationalist and protective systems of manufacturing and production, our supply chains expand globally to satisfy the interests of the multinationals; those who finance the law and policy makers, while displacing agriculture and manufacturing worldwide. The digital era brings us electronic banking and the transfer of funds instantly with electronic systems of currency exchange.
In our metamodern world, loyalty to country or society is no longer a relevant dynamic between big capital and labor. If private sector capitalism has shown us anything it’s in how the multinational industries and financial institutions have siphoned off almost a third of the world’s wealth, hoarded in tax free offshore accounts. Small businesses in America can no longer depend on domestic supply chains.
The symbiotic relationships between the larger manufacturers, the smaller suppliers and the off-shoot economies that benefited from each, have been severed. Accounts owned by the same individuals who are always quick to ask how we can possibly afford all of this entitlement and socialism while their style of capitalism bleeds out the wealth of nations.
“One might even say that the so-called crisis of the West is nothing less than a crisis of dominance, where the class bully suddenly realizes he has lost his allies and his victims no longer put up with his crap. What we speak about when we speak about (geo)political instability, after all, is that we, in the west, is the realization that we never so much appeased conflict as that we displaced it. Similarly, our current problem with capitalism is not that it shows its real face; our problem is that we, in the West, now see this face much clearer than during the postmodern years– like conflict, it was there all along, we just looked away.” – Timotheus Vermeulen & Robin van den Akker
After forty years of political collusion (1976, Buckley v. Valeo: Money equals speech) between the moneyed special interests of industry and the state it is understandable how a society could popularize socialism more today than any time in its history.
There are repeated examples from all over the ancient and metamodern world that teach us the necessity for alternative pathways in how to approach geopolitics and social engineering. Yes, there was a time when phrases like that used to mean pragmatic attempts at collective cooperation with human and environmental concerns being the core values. Today any collectivist idea is met with the fury of Ayn Rand and the misguided interpretations of American Libertarianism; another abuse of the international political lexicon tailored explicitly by the American ruling class.