The Metamodern: Paradigm Shifts, Running in opposite Directions

“We live in a world where our social system is old, our language is old, the way we acquire goods and services is outdated, our cities are detrimental to our health, chaotic and a tremendous waste of resources, and most of all our politics and values no longer serve us.” – The Venus Project


By EJ Wickes

It becomes more apparent that within the paradigm shifts in society, there is also a severe paradigm split between progressive and regressive thought. As technology, mass communications and media make physical location more obsolete, there are still proponents against intelligent progress who strongly support sustainable social, environmental and economic destruction through the installments of outdated methods.

We’ve seen otherwise well intended and reasonable steps toward progress in civil rights and economic growth since the atomic age, cold war aside, but as we cross over the threshold into the new millennium, the mists of superstition and narrow mindedness still hold us back. If metamodernism is the evolution of experience between modern and postmodern aesthetics then how could any informed metamodern society not be susceptible to knowledge gained by experience? As the species evolves further from the primitive the gap between the paradigm splits become greater. The further forward technology and philosophy reaches, the further back the resistance pulls by its mere static existence.

Industry and technology move so fast, we the organisms are forced to play catch up more than ever. This has been defined by Alvin Toffler as Future Shock and is as relevant now as it was in 1970 when his book was published. As we ignore our history and deny the foreshadowing of the future by science and science fiction visionaries, clinging to a past that falls further behind while the future soars ahead leaves us caught somewhere between, in a vast void of conflicting ideologies.

For one of the newer cultures ironically American society resists new ways of thinking about morality, politics; industry and education. There are those of influence globally who refuse to allow societies to emerge beyond the constraints preached by southern evangelicals, fundamentalist Islamic clerics or radical Zionists. The more the paradigm shifts the more it splits and skews in opposite directions; one paradigm seeking new alternatives at any cost and the other clinging religiously to old established methods no matter how obsolete they become through the evolution of science.

“Conditions of misery, suffering, war, and war profiteering were the incentive and inspiration for my work. I was also motivated by the seeming incompetence of governments, the academic world, and a lack of solutions from scientists. Many fail as generalists because of their over-specialization on limited aspects of social problems. Scientists, politicians, and academicians see problems from inside the system they’re in, which is what’s responsible for the problems in the first place. I am disappointed with those who worry about terra-forming other planets while our own is still full of war, poverty, hunger, and environmental neglect.” – Jacques Fresco

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet (Denmark for example) we have new political movements and metamodern experiments in social engineering that are defying the status quo of the “established” society and its institutionalized dogma. Finland ranked top in education recently along with Korea. Conservatism or liberalism is relative to the geopolitics and social curves any society experiences. Time and experience will often lead to “emerging” ideas and cultural adaptations for change in both camps indicating a certain amount of hypocrisy from each. Societies are never established; they are always emerging and with the meeting of cultures should come the exchange of ideas, not prejudice or conquest.

The economic disparity between the haves and have nots is more clearly defined by access to technology and resources. The 20th Century brought more head spinning change through industry and technology than any century in history. Along with that comes more resistance to change than ever in proportion to progress. Everything has a price tag, including education and healthcare. The fundamentals of development and sustainability have been monetized. Survival has become a privilege to be doled out by the hierarchy of faux-capitalists and faux-socialists; and nowhere in the United States do they adhere to the fundamental core values of either.

The technological advancements, for example between the Stone Age and Bronze Age were dwarfed in comparison to the span of time and level of technology achieved between the Stone Age and the Digital Age. Along with every religion, technology and philosophy in between, has there been anything we haven’t tried to find complacency in our existence? In a heavily populated world swarming with intelligence one would think we would have solved all disparity gaps on a global level, but this would have rendered the system of property ownership and currency exchange obsolete.

As production capabilities increased the need for increased consumerism had to follow; hence the structure of capitalism and socialism as economic principles. Economic principles that would soon be confused for systems of government. We no longer produce or shop for what we need; we shop for what we’re told we should want and all of it is made with chemicals and plastics manufactured from fossil fuels. Our selective systems of economics and production are not congruent to the mutual sustainability of the entire organism.

Visualize in your mind’s eye the economic and technological gaps worldwide. Add to that religion. Imagine someone engaging in ancient manifestations of prayer from belief systems a millennia old, kneeling against an object just as old, while simultaneously a space ship is orbiting one of Pluto’s moons. Metamodernism is not only the sharing of experiences and reverberations of postmodernism and modernism, but a connection to the contradictions of man’s ancient past as we reach blindly into the future groping for anything that will fulfill our cultural, financial and environmental hopes and dreams.

The arguments on the structure of education hinge on Specialization vs Diversification and the Human Capital Movement borrowed from the business class during the Reagan administration. Unbending standards of linear thought held by any philosophy will lead to its own demise. Politics is a prime example. As education is the gateway to understanding politics, we’ll use an example from Buckminster Fuller:

“Around the 70’s two important papers were presented to learned societies; one on anthropology and the other on biology. Both researchers were working completely independently. It happened by chance that I saw both papers. The biological study was looking into all the biological species that have become extinct. The anthropological one was looking into all the human tribes that had become extinct. Both researchers were trying to find a commonality of causes for extinction. Both of them found the same cause independently – extinction is a consequence of over-specialization. As you get more and more specialized, you inbreed specialization. It’s organic. Hence you out-breed general adaptability.”

A radical and dangerous deconstruction of progressive and humane ideals is occurring simultaneously alongside of immense technological and industrial achievement. It is no longer a matter of different factions discussing options to prevent the parting of company at the fork in the road. Both factions abandon all reason when the road splits; refusing the best ideas that each has to offer. It’s as if both sides break out in a blind sprint in opposite directions, leaving millions drawn and quartered at the fork in the road as the horses cut and run.

Image (left) by Xavier Gallego Morell

Rational thought dictates a certain amount of conservatism and liberalism need to be applied in all aspects of life. It is possible to be fiscally responsible and socially liberal. It does not have to be one or the other. We can have our cake and eat it too. I’ve had my cake and have always gotten to eat it; literally dozens of times. Preferably chocolate.

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