Nordic ideology

Nordic Ideology by Hanzi Freinacht (Book Summary)

“Nordic Ideology” by Hanzi Frienacht is the second in a series of groundbreaking books that unpack the metamodern philosophy. Using a developmentally aware lens Frienacht is able to identify key patterns which are crucial for transforming our world. He goes on to present the 6 politics that are necessary for creating a metamodern society. In this deep exploration, you will learn how society develops, its key problems, and potential pathways towards a more holistic, loving, and listening society. 

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*All sentences in quotations are direct quotes from “Nordic Ideology” and are attributed to Hanzi Freinacht. Bold is added for skimmability. 

Check out – My In-depth summary of Hanzi’s first book “The Listening Society”.


How society develops 

  • “There is a default “no-theory” place from which we can develop society; we are always within the framework of a theory of some kind.”
  • “Studying major societal attractors is a good thing when your analysis is correct, and it’s a bad thing when you’re wrong.” 
  • “You need to evaluate which parts of my theory should be kept or scrapped. But, again, to do that you need to successfully understand the theory first.” 
  • “The tendency of humans to think we can understand the complexity of our own societies and “plan them” has led to huge mistakes, the communist experiments being only the clearest example.”


“Three major ingredients of a modern liberal democracy: 

  1. A meritocratic state bureaucracy (where people are loyal to society as a whole, not only to their family or clan) 
  2. Accountability of the government (with a strong civil society capable of self-organizing and sometimes resisting the power of the state) 
  3. Rule of law (i.e. that laws are upheld and the government is restrained by the same laws as everyone else)”


  • “Some countries display all three characteristics (Western democracies), some display two (Latin American countries have states and accountability but generally a weak rule of law) and some display only one (like China, which has only a strong state bureaucracy and a limited form of rule of law).”
  • “Even if the study of societal development is an issue ridden with landmines and potential misunderstandings, it is hard to deny the obvious fact that societies somehow develop—if not to “higher” forms, if not “forward”, at least to later stages that are more complex, richer and form parts of larger systems of exchange.”
  • “Counter-intuitive as it may sound to many, more complex societies need more intimate mechanisms of control.” 
  • “This increased control that makes possible the civil liberties, human rights and liberal culture we currently enjoy. Order, freedom and equality go hand-in-hand. As with all three-part marriages, it’s not always simple; but the three need each other.”
  • “Control also grows as modern society progresses: that everything—from trade flows, to births and deaths, to bodies, to inner organs, to sex and sexuality, to gender, to time management, to city landscapes—becomes increasingly subjected to minute control, monitoring and standardization.”
  • “Today, more than ever, we are being controlled by a multitude of sources that lie beyond our conscious consent—at a greater distance from us. These sources of control are much less tangible than our former feudal bonds.”
  • with the nation state and the civil sphere, “the individual” can be born since our “selves” no longer remain as intimately tied up with our clan, our family, our land. People start identifying with their nationalities, their class, their ideas, their professions and intimate relationships—a betrayal of all identities of old, but an expansion of our overall freedom to find our own paths, and, in some ways, an expansion of our circle of solidarity.”
  • “We now care about people we’ve never met, given we share the same nationality.” 
  • “the birth of a nation is a dangerous affair. You grab thousands—no, millions—of people’s attention for years; mold and discipline their minds: they become school teachers, doctors, professors, engineers, lawyers, administrators, accountants, scientists, military officers.Then you direct the awesome power that emerges as all of these specialists collaborate.”
  • “The nation state is an emergent pattern of governance, of human self-organization, of the management of complexity.” 
  • “In the 20th century this tendency towards greater intimacy of control takes on yet another level of magnitude. With the emergence of the welfare state, built “on top of” the nation state, forms of coordination and control that hitherto had been unimaginable become reality.”
  • “The manner in which I here consider the welfare state is not only a matter of redistribution of wealth. It is rather, and primarily, a whole world of interrelated mechanisms of controlling and coordinating people’s bodies, minds, personalities and behaviors.” 
  • “Enter the minions of the welfare state: social workers, psychologists, sociologists, statisticians, public health officials, urban planners, more doctors and nurses and assistant nurses, dentists, accountants, economists, political scientists, public relations experts, employment counselors, more teachers, liberal professors—and, of course, administrators, administrators, administrators.”
  • “An endless onslaught of highly educated people—professionals—monitoring and controlling increasingly complex and intimate parts of human interactions.” 
  • “The sociologists Peter Miller and Nikolas Rose made a name for themselves by studying these many minute and subtle techniques social workers, counselors and accountants use to govern society.”
  • “Without these many micro-techniques of control, the state we know today could hardly exist.”
  • Welfare and control, to a large extent, go hand-in-hand. They are two sides of the same coin.” 
  • “The Danish sociologist Gøsta Esping-Andersen famously described the “three worlds of welfare capitalism” in his 1990 book with the same title, noting there are different systems: the social democratic (Nordic countries), the conservative (Germany, Japan) and the liberal (the US).”
  • Welfare systems exist in all advanced societies and they seem to increase, rather than decrease, the freedom of people.”
  • “If carefully and skillfully implemented, they seem to subtly change the games of everyday life, leading to more progressive values, to higher effective value memes.”
  • “That is what the vision of the listening society promises: creating an even more sensitive welfare system on top of the existing one.”
  • The issue is not to avoid any control, but to avoid bad, unscientific, corrupt or despotic control.”

How do humans change as the intimacy of control increases?

  • “A strange matter of affairs under this increasing intimacy of control is that populations don’t really seem to become more complacent and homogenous as it unfolds. Quite the opposite seems to be the case, at least in the countries that maintain a solid rule of law and a strong civil society besides an efficient bureaucracy.”
  • “In larger and more complex societies, people seem to develop more individualized personalities, values and worldviews, not less.”
  • “An important aspect of this is that people develop into higher value memes and, despite their apparent individualism, also seem to develop more universalistic, inclusive and non-sectarian values.”
  • “The classical sociologist Émile Durkheim famously observed that modern society progresses by increasing the differentiation of the division of labor, which in turn makes each person work with more and more individualized tasks, hence developing more unique skills and experiences.”
  • “These unique contributions are then integrated with each other in a more refined economy. Accordingly, this was an analysis of what Durkheim called “differentiation” and integration.”
  • “Society as a whole becomes increasingly emotionally sensitive and in greater need of more subtle, profound and complex forms of social integration. When such integration fails, life feels empty and meaningless.”
  • “Every attempt to create more intimate integration risks becoming a new source of oppression.” 
  • “once a society has opted for a certain form of governance, it is very “expensive” and difficult to change the structure.”

Understanding the problems of today’s dominant society 

Four Categories of Problems:

1. Residual problems – “The residual problems are the percentages left here and there of the pre-modern stage of development: not all people are protected from curable diseases, some live in areas controlled by mobsters and are thereby still oppressed, some slavery still goes on.”

2. New Emergent properties problems – “the new emergent properties problems: ecological unsustainability, excess inequality, and alienation and stress.” “All three of these problems are caused, in one way or another, by the dramatic expansion of our industrial productivity”

  • sustainability because we produce and consume more than our ecosystems can endure”
  • inequality because this wealth is distributed in a series of “scale free networks”, where the most central positions gain a larger proportion of the wealth”
  • alienation because of the abstractness and distance that shows up between our everyday activities and their benefits for ourselves and others: Many of us lose a sense of meaning, purpose and direction.”

3. Beauties Lost Problems – “It entails all the good things that were prevalent in pre-modern societies, but for different reasons diminished as societies became modern.”

  • “compare the expansion of electronically available music—millions of bands, artists and orchestras available online to be played with marvelous sound systems—to the fact that most of us have stopped singing.”
  • “Another example of a beauty lost is “simplicity”; that life had a kind of directness and straightforwardness which allowed a certain modest satisfaction. Other such beauties lost are the “connection to the soil”, appreciation of the small things—perhaps a well-crafted tool—or the via contemplativa of monastic life; the calm, ascetic life in service of spiritual goals.”
  • “all societal progression into later and “more advanced” stages entails some beauties lost, and that there may be good reasons to figure out how some of these can be regained and reincorporated without trying to turn the clock back.”

4. New heights reached problems – “There are problems that are perhaps not directly caused by modern life, but whose solutions only now come within reach. Only when we acquire greater capabilities can we begin to see them and direct our attention towards them. In the old days, we simply didn’t have the luxury to worry about these problems; now we can.” 

  • “The first “new-heights issue” is tied to alienation, but still distinct from it: the lack of meaning and fulfillment. What happens in a society where you already have food, shelter and abundance? People begin to worry that they might be squandering their lives; that they may not be making the best of it; that something is still lacking; that life has become boring and too predictable.” 
  • “The second new-heights issue has to do with struggle and heroism; how can we align our own petty lives with the overarching story about humanity, the world and even the cosmos? How can we be something else, something more, than just an average Jane or Joe consumer? Now that we have relative safety and autonomy, how can we make it worthwhile?”
  • The third higher issue pertains to gender equality and freedom of identity: Can we be sexually emancipated, not only in the sense that we can be women with equal rights as men, but that we can be truly sexually and emotionally fulfilled? Can we experience erotic fulfillment and intimacy both at once? Can we be gay, transgender, or otherwise experiment with and create our sexual and gender identities? Women’s liberation and the other gender/sexuality issues have come within our grasp in modern societies, but they are not conclusively solved by it.”
  • “The fourth and last higher issue is animal rights. Of course, a big part of the problem with the abuse of animals has to do with modern phenomena such as industrial farming.”
  • “increasing dividuation also entails a corresponding difficulty for each of these unique souls to find ways to really match their inner drives, hopes, motives, ethics, skills and distinctive gifts with the world around them.”

To Summarize: “Residual problems (left-overs from before modernity). New emergent properties problems (caused by modernity). Beauties lost (qualities from earlier societies lost under modernity). New heights reached (problems that simply weren’t viable to try to solve before, but now have come within our reach).” 


Understanding Game Change 

  • “Societal progress is about “game change”; it’s when the background rules of life’s interactions—everyday, normal interactions—change and evolve.” 
  • “Progress is when the game of life becomes fairer, kinder, more transparent, more inclusive, more forgiving, -more sustainable, more rational, more fulfilling.”
  • “Life is a game. Always will be. Since we inhabit a world of limited resources, our daily lives are full of zero-sum interactions where one party walks away with a prize while another leaves the table empty-handed; games with winners and losers.”
  • “Game denial”: the inability to perceive, or a negligence of, the logical and behavioral rules that regulate human relations.” 
  • Or simply when you deny the realities of life and forcefully impose your own “ought” upon what “is”.
  • “Game denial means to hate the game and try to eradicate it. It can take the form of liberal political correctness or, in its extreme form, crude communism.”
  • That life has ambiguity is a mixed blessing: It means we can make more favorable interpretations and save our positive self-images, but it also means the leeway to deny obvious competitions and conflicting interests is huge.”
  • “No matter how profoundly symbiotic and loving a relationship, there is always an inescapable element of struggle. A game.”
  • “Whatever game you want to repress—like capitalism—this can only be done by activating a grosser level of game—like the game for political totalitarian power. Communist states repressed the mechanisms of “games for profit” by playing a much crueler game for political power.” 
  • the worst part is that denying the existence of the game means that the game cannot be described, taught and learned.
  • “The game is hidden away, made taboo. Hence, game denial is in the service of the privileged elite, making the game less fair by serving those who already know the rules and deceiving those who do not.” 
  • It’s not always easy to tell game denial apart from more legitimate forms of idealism. A rule of thumb, however, is that game denial very often arrives in the company of her twisted little sister: moralism—being subtly (or not so subtly) judgmental and self-righteous.” 
  • “The social rewards of game denial are part of it—and they should not be denied. It is as if many of the progressive intellectuals are “bribed” by the social rewards they can attain by taking part in game denial. These are emotional and cognitive bribes that distort thinking processes, discourses and truth seeking.”
  • Game acceptance means to prostrate before the game and take it as a law of nature in its current form, denying that the game can and must evolve.”
  • “The central principle of game acceptance is hence: That which could be is not, and hence it should not be.”
  • Neither game denial nor game acceptance is a consciously held perspective.”
  • What then, is game change? It is the productive synthesis of game denial and game acceptance: you accept that life is a game and you resolve to work to change it.
  • “Game change is a developmental affair. It has to do with making advances into higher stages of societal development.”


Understanding & Utilizing Attractors

  • “An “attractor” is a pattern or equilibrium that under certain conditions is very likely to emerge and stabilize within a dynamical system, such as a society.
  • Attractors make you smarter.”
  • “The most astonishing and admirable achievements have rarely been made by those who set about to wrestle history and singlehandedly initiate a great change, and more often by those who knew the direction of the winds and adjusted their sails accordingly.”
  • “The world is a chaotic place and the future is never predetermined; but on the general level, some things are just more likely to happen than others, and some are very likely to happen.” 
  • How likely one development or another is to occur is determined by the “gravitational strength” of the attractors.” 
  • “The advantages of a digitized society, for instance, are simply so great that the gravitational pull of this attractor makes it very, very likely that we would all own a computer one day once it was invented.”
  • The modern democratic state is not the only attractor, but it is certainly one of the most competitive ones.”
  • “Understanding where you are in a sequence of attractors doesn’t necessarily mean you can go to the next stage, or indeed, that you should always try to do so. But it means you can tilt the likelihood of going in a direction that is more sustainable and is likely to have positive effects in the lives of people.”


Expanding our understanding of Freedom 

  • The mainstream way of measuring freedom in a country these days is championed by Freedom House.This institute monitors the rights in each country, if there is free press, if there are free and fair elections, freedom of association, human rights violations and so forth.”
  • “Each country is graded from a score of 7 (least free) to 1 (most free). Countries like Sweden and the US get a rating of 1, whereas countries like North Korea and Saudi Arabia are rated “not free” with a bottom score of 7. Russia is also, notably, “not free” with a score of 6.5.”
  • “In the latest Freedom House report, 44% of countries were described as “free”, 26% as “not free” and 30% as “partly free” (including countries such as Ukraine, Turkey and Mexico).”
  • “Freedom must be felt and embodied by the citizen in order to be real.”
  • “Emotions are just as important a part of freedom as our institutions and legal rights, and in order to reach higher levels of freedom, people must be emotionally emancipated.”
  • “Can we imagine a concept of freedom that would completely exclude all emotions? Can we be free while being controlled by a paralyzing terror or shame? Not really.”
  • “Emotions are much more complex than our everyday language can grasp; a language we use to try to catch the essence of elusive chimera that are always momentary, specific, context dependent, observer dependent and where the description of the “thing” (the emotion) cannot be separated from the emotion itself.”
  • “We must acknowledge that we as a society need negative emotions to regulate our behavior. But at the same time we need to remember that negative emotions aren’t predefined by nature; that it is we, as a collective, who make others experience shame and guilt, and that these emotional regimes can be more or less justified, be more or less in tune with the current societal conditions.”
  • “Negative emotions like shame, guilt and envy are socially dependent; they don’t emerge autonomously in a given person, but are always derived from society’s norms, values, routines—and most of all, the games of everyday life.”
  • “There are different emotional regimes in different societies. Emotions are social, and freedom depends upon emotions, freedom is social, and thus collective.”
  • “The degree to which I can enjoy freedom largely depends on a long chain of interactions in everyday life, on how you and everyone else act, think and feel. If you feel judgmental, disdainful, hateful or envious towards me, and I am not in a position to ignore your reactions, it limits my freedom.”
  • “There is, in this sense, an economy of emotions, where my feelings are profoundly interconnected with yours.”
  • “1) fear impels us to avoid hatred and violent aggression, 2) guilt to avoid moral judgment, 3) shame to avoid contempt, and 4) Sklavenmoral impels us to avoid that others feel envious of us.”
  • “We normally don’t walk around actually feeling these emotions; yet we are, to differing degrees, controlled by them: Because we avoid them, we don’t usually feel them, but because we do avoid them, we remain in their grip. “
  • “They constitute the invisible machinery that lets everyday life in any society run smoothly; indeed, that makes any society functional at all. Again: The avoided negative emotions are, as it were, hidden in plain sight.”
  • “If I am judgmental towards the perceived moral flaws of others (justifiably or not), then I’m also likely to judge myself more harshly, feeling like an unworthy piece of dirt.” 
  • “Everyday life doesn’t work without sanctions. Sometimes we do need to condemn people for their actions.”
  • “The question, then, is not how to get rid of these negative emotions altogether, but how to develop them. “
  • the insight that freedom is a collective good—that we are freed together, or not at all, and that this is a matter of collective, or rather “transpersonal”, development.”
  • “Whenever we obtain one form of freedom, another kind appears at the horizon.
  • “The truth is that once we have traveled the long road to freedom, we are back at the very point where we started: at fear, at sheer terror. It’s just us and the blank page of our life that we must fill—the blank canvas of the artist staring right back at us, screaming, roaring: CREATE ME!”
  • “freedom is struggle; freedom is terror; it is the terror of facing pure chaos, the pristine meaninglessness of reality, the vastness of potential, and the weight of the responsibility that follows.
  • “To embrace freedom, Fromm argued, human beings must have the proper spiritual support—we need to practice to be able to recreate ourselves at higher levels of individuation.”
  • “We must grow as human beings in order to manifest positive freedoms (“freedom to”), lest we retreat in fear and try to recreate the imagined safe havens of the past. That’s what totalitarianism and reactionary movements promise—an escape from freedom itself.”
  • “But the totalitarian and fundamentalist movements betray us; they are entirely devoid of art and creativity, and if we subscribe to them we subtly feel that our souls have been oppressed and violated.
  • “If our societal freedom is not matched by a corresponding level of personal development, we are terrified by the freedom gained.”
  • Simple procrastination can also be an escape from freedom.” 
  • “a profoundly free society would be one where all of us become artists in the most general sense”
  • “your rights are inevitably my responsibilities and vice versa).
  • Negative” human rights (or negative freedoms), as we have seen, include such things as not being arbitrarily imprisoned, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of religion, profession, trade, etc.
  • “freedom is a scale, both at the level of the single person and for society as a whole—and it develops together with order and equality.” 


How freedom leads to oppression:

”a) as society’s complexity increases, b) this also creates pressures to increase the reach and density of governance, c) and this creates new sources of oppression (both the increased complexity of society at large and the new layers of governance), d) and this creates an increased need to expand negative human rights and freedoms, i.e. the right not to be subjected to a host of new oppressions, e) and as these new negative rights must be of a subtler and more abstract nature, they will be harder to define, defend and make sound and socially sustainable, which thus makes necessary an ongoing political process through which information is gathered, rights and obligations are perpetually discussed and tested, and new institutions are created in order to defend people against new forms of oppression.”

Four Dimensions of Oppression:

  • “The first category has to do with being oppressed by external state and/or market structures, and this is perhaps how we conventionally think of oppression. If someone hinders you from expressing your opinions, spies on you, forces you to say words you don’t believe in, or unfairly drives you into poverty and degradation by ruining your means of income, all of these things are different forms of direct oppression by the system or the collective, of you as a single person.”
  • “The second category has to do with the limits of everyday life interactions, the cultural forms of oppression. For instance, if you are of a disdained minority group and people habitually ignore or downplay your perspectives, opinions and interests, this is also a form of oppression. Or if you are of a lower effective value meme than most of society and you are pressured to take on a straightjacket of morality requiring an inner depth and cognitive complexity that you simply lack, this feels like oppression.”
  • “The third category of oppression has to do with other people and their behaviors more directly standing in your way. On the crudest level, this means things like someone forcing you to live at their apartment and have sex with them, but there are any number of oppressive relations that come in different levels of directness and severity.
  • “Ideally “your freedom should end where mine begins”, but—as I have argued earlier—in actual social reality, people and their everyday lives are always layered in social relations: parents have power over their kids, larger family groups over single persons, bosses over employees, teachers over pupils, bossy and manipulative peers over peers. Your freedom doesn’t start at my outer border, but at the center of my heart.” 
  • “The fourth and last category of oppression has to do with our own inner oppression of ourselves. In the last instance, freedom is always dependent upon us having sufficient skills and faculties to act freely and make use of what resources we have for the benefit of ourselves and others. For instance, if we cannot recognize what emotions and deeper motives arise within ourselves, we will be slaves to motives that lie beyond our conscious awareness—often being stuff such as greed, envy, power hunger, or an unreasonable sense of insecurity. And others will have greater leeway to manipulate our perceived needs, wants and motives to serve interests that we may not even be aware of.”


Different levels of freedom:

  1. “Slavery—your rights and freedoms are at the whim of another and you do not own even your own body. 
  2. Serfdom—you formally own your body but your lowly social position is predefined and you are not allowed to travel freely and others can take a significant portion of the fruits of your labor.
  3. Subjected citizenship—you can travel around freely and do what you want but have no say in public matters. Impoverished citizenship—you have a basic enfranchisement and entitlement in public matters but no real say in them without taking significant risks, such as in socialist republics.
  4. Basic citizenship—as above, but you can try to have a say without significant risks.
  5. Socially active citizenship—you have a meaningful and substantial relationship to public affairs that affect your life. 
  6. Integrated citizenship—you have real and effective ways of affecting things happening around you. Norm-defining citizenship—you also have real and effective ways of affecting the political discourses and arenas around you.
  7. Co-creative citizenship—society at large, its arenas, institutions and functions feel and effectively are as your own home and you feel comfortable and entitled to participate in any part of it.”
  • “If you consider countries such as Sweden, Germany or the US, most people have a freedom level of “5” according to this scale, while significant minorities have freedom levels of 1-4: trafficking victims, illegal immigrants, kids stuck with tyrannical parents and so forth. If you look at countries like China, most people are in the ballpark of freedom 3-4.”
  • “it is clear that these different levels of freedom must be tied to the overall cultural and institutional development of freedom in society.”
  • “A part of us wants to escape from freedom. And yet, the future of society depends precisely upon our ability to cultivate such a higher freedom and embrace it.”


How Negative Social Emotions Develop 

  • “Societies advance through four emotional regimes: from fear, to guilt, to shame, to Sklavenmoral” 
  • the hierarchy of negative social emotions of control. The spectrum of judgment follows a certain logic or order. fear trumps guilt, guilt trumps shame, and shame trumps Sklavenmoral (the internalized envy of others).” 
  • Our notions of guilt can be expelled if we are put under sufficient pressure of fear and if the normal order of everyday life breaks down.” 
  • Another way of recognizing the hierarchy between the four families of negative emotions is by comparing it to Abraham Maslow’s classical hierarchy of needs.
  • “Fear relates to maintaining physical safety by avoiding rage, hatred and aggression, i.e. to the first, basic needs according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.” 
  • “Guilt relates to being a worthy member of a community, to showing one’s moral worth and value, that one is qualified to participate in society in the first place—so it has to do with belonging.
  • “Shame relates to being an esteemed and recognized member of our in-group; we feel ashamed when we do not consider ourselves worthy of respect, the opposite of which is pride and self-esteem.”
  • And Sklavenmoral relates to our higher aspirations and longings, holding us back from self-actualization, productive self-expression and ultimately from self-transcendence.”
  • “in the most developed parts of the world, a new trend towards greater acceptance of people’s differences and perceived flaws is increasingly making the shame-regime less prominent.” 
  • As a result, a growing number of people tend to be more concerned with the higher emotional need for self-actualization.”
  • “This is a development of increased freedom: first we liberate ourselves from fear of violence, then we liberate ourselves from the guilt of not being deserving members of society, and finally, as we’re seeing today, we’re liberating ourselves from the shame of not being perceived as good enough “
  • “At the time of Hammurabi, fear simply remained the most efficient means available to governments to regulate people’s behavior. But as societies grew larger and more complex, new social technologies came online—such as honor codes, ethics and organized religion.”
  • Supplementing a fear-regime with a guilt-regime offers notable competitive advantages to the governments who master it competently. Guilt is, first of all, more “cost-efficient” than fear. Coercing people into following the law and paying their taxes requires expensive weapons and soldiers. Paying a priest to tell folks they’ll accumulate bad karma and go to hell if they don’t behave nicely can be done rather cheaply.”
  • “A guilt-regime, however, doesn’t require the continuous presence of soldiers to be efficient. If the socialization process of a person has been successful, emotions of guilt arise automatically from the judgments of others whenever they do something prohibited—all without any direct interference by rulers. All that’s needed is our own guilt-stricken soul.”
  • “The transition to the third stage, the shame-regime, which is tied to the emergence of modern society, etiquette became increasingly refined as Western Europe modernized”.
  • “Instead of fearing the warlord, or feeling guilty before God or the community, modern people self-regulate according to a large host of mechanisms of shame and embarrassment.”
  • Modern society depends on a much greater amount of daily interactions among a higher number of people than in any earlier society. For this high level of social complexity to be possible, it is required that people interact with each other as little friction as possible, with little external regulation.”
  • “fear is capable at regulating the most fundamental behaviors needed for society to function (preventing murder, theft, etc. make people pay taxes), guilt can make people treat each other in more benign way, and finally we have shame which can make people more considerate towards each other.”
  • “The transition to the shame-regime became much more pronounced in the general population during the 20th century. Shame and embarrassment may ultimately be less powerful than guilt and fear, but they are certainly easier to elicit in people in a world of mass media and an ongoing debate in a public sphere.”
  • Commercials often rely upon an elaborate balance between eliciting desire and shame.
  • “Because self-esteem is such a prevailing concern in the lives of most modern people, we’re flooded with commercials targeting our insecurities and emotional need for social recognition by tuning into the prevailing shame-regime.”
  • the great struggles for freedom revolve around the issue of defining the mechanisms of shame and stigma: enter the queer movements, feminism, the recent #metoo phenomenon, in which women cast off the shame of revealing sexual abuse, campaigns against slut-shaming, fat-shaming, stigmatization of people with disabilities, you name it. They all seek to alter the everyday games of shame and acceptance.”
  • “That the gay parades gather under the banner of “pride”—the opposite of shame—is a telling sign of it being an attempt to redefine and overthrow the shame-regime. 
  • “In the advanced stages of modern society, people have been working to emancipate themselves from some parts of the shame-regime.”
  • “This development has perhaps gone the farthest in the Nordic countries, where sexual education is relatively developed, attitudes towards sex relaxed, displays of vulnerability seen as strengths and the relationship to authorities rather casual.”
  • “It should not surprise us, then, that these societies have begun to display emotional regimes at the next stage: Sklavenmoral.”
  • “The Law of Jante is a set of attitudes that subtly devalue and ignore people who aspire towards greater achievement, fame and excellence
  • “It is usually taken to be a distinctive cultural trait of Scandinavians, often contrasted with the more self-expressive American culture.” 
  • “The Law of Jante states as follows: You’re not to think you are anything special. You’re not to think you are as good as we are. You’re not to think you are smarter than we are. You’re not to imagine yourself better than we are.”
  • “Today it’s considered bad taste to display one’s social status by driving flashy cars or wearing expensive jewelry, it’s an absolute no-go for successful persons to talk about how much smarter and hardworking they are than common people, and even prime ministers, pop stars and royalty are expected to display humility and self-depreciation and constantly need to avoid giving the impression they believe they are “better” than others.”
  • This kind of Sklavenmoral, which corresponds so well with the Law of Jante, is indeed more widespread in Scandinavia than in most other places.
  • if we look at some of the most progressive pockets elsewhere in the world, we’ll notice that pride and self-glorification seem to have gone terribly out of fashion in recent years—Trump’s unabashed boasting just isn’t as cool in New York and Silicon Valley as it is in Alabama.”
  • if the Law of Jante is so prevalent in the Nordic societies, it may seem strange these societies, according the World Value Survey’s measure of cultural values score the highest in terms of valuing self-expression.”
  • “How can the countries who value self-expression higher than anyone else be the same who simultaneously emphasize self-depreciation the most?” 
  • When a society advances to the later stages of modernity and people become less controlled by shame, more people also begin to strive for “self-actualization” to a greater extent”
  • “Because people generally compete less to become “respectable” and more to be “special”, the emotional regime of Sklavenmoral enters the stage. Consequently, people start to adapt by finding subtle ways of avoiding the envy of others, or else others will be unwilling to cooperate with them and may withhold social recognition.” 
  • The rise of the Sklavenmoral-regime may very well be an underlying factor which explains the increased level of narcissism in the general population during the last decades.”
  • “Many have observed that narcissism indeed has become more widespread, but most fail to see that society at large has become increasingly obsessed with the imagined (correctly or not) self-image of other people; that we’ve collectively become obsessed with the perceived narcissism of others.”
  • “Narcissism—the obsession with our own image and the idea of our self—is born from the need to convince ourselves we really are special after all, from an inner drive to extinguish the painful doubts Sklavenmoral has sown in us.”
  • It is an unproductive defense against the subtly experienced envy of others.”
  • Understanding the role of envy—and its sister emotions of jealousy (envy in the realm of love) and schadenfreude (the subtle satisfaction procured from another’s defeat or misery)—is paramount for navigating the coming period and to serve real emancipation at a societal level.”
  • A number of mechanisms may in effect increase the prevalence and intensity of envy in present-day society: an over-exposure to highly successful and beautiful people in magazines and TV, a constant bombardment of all the carefully curated “perfect” moments of our friends on social media, all the new amazing gadgets and lifestyles we’ll never afford or have time for.”
  • “we mostly experience our own envy as righteous anger.”
  • “We quite easily become symbolically invested in the failure of others’ dreams and aspirations.”
  • Symbolic investment in the failure of others can emerge either because their aspirations collide with some of our own ideological convictions, or because it conflicts with our view of how reality works, or simply because it disturbs our ideas about social hierarchies and who’s the wiser and more competent person.”
  • “symbolic investment in another’s failure—we wish for their failure not because of the results of another’s struggle for a better world, but because of what their success would symbolize and imply about ourselves.
  • It is a rather frightening dynamic; suddenly, we may start preferring that someone fails to save a million lives, just to save our own sense of chosenness and immortality. That’s how trivial and automatic envy can be.”
  • “Nothing hurts our sense of “chosenness” and immortality more than the manifest sublimity of another’s soul. Not only that they are successful, but that they are idealistic, good-hearted, high-minded and fruitfully engaged in deeply significant pursuits—when we are not.”
  • “It is relatively easy to wish one another well, that no harm should befall our fellow citizens and peers. We don’t wish for one another to fall off a cliff—that would be terrible! But rarely do we sincerely wish for our lowly buddy to become the next Barack Obama. We prefer it if he gets about the same amount of happiness and success as ourselves; preferably slightly less.”
  • “How, then, do we beat envy and emancipate ourselves from the Sklavenmoral-regime? I suggest three angles of attack: First, to improve our shared general skills of introspection, so that we can “bust our own bullshit”; second, to make it visible and to name it, so that more people can see it coming and not so easily be taken by surprise; third, to help each of us integrate and own our deeply held will to power.”
  • “Once we manage to cast off the fear, shame, guilt and Sklavenmoral of society’s conditioning, we are left with no forces pressuring us to do anything; no pre-given maps of meaning and no extrinsic motivations.”
  • “For all its terrible and visceral materiality, our slavery to negative social emotions at least protects us from the responsibility of being creators of our own lives or co-creators of the world. In actual slavery under penalty of death, at least we need not take any real responsibility for our own selves, beyond obedience. In slavery to guilt, we need not construct our own morality. In slavery to shame, we need not find our own path in life; only comply with what the neighbors might think.”

Expanding our Understanding of Equality 

  • “Equality is part and parcel of freedom’s development as equality determines the nature and quality of our relations.”
  • “To a large extent, equality is about recognition.”
  • “We only want recognition from those who we ourselves value, from those who we ourselves “recognize” as equals or superiors, from the ones we respect, admire or desire.” 
  • “Recognition is a networked tagging game; a game of performances and displays. Recognition reproduces recognition. Disdain reproduces disdain.”
  • “We withhold our recognition for reasons of envy.”
  • four paradoxical natures of equality: first, that we are not de facto equal; second, that even a perfect meritocracy with no structural discrimination reproduces an exacerbated felt inequality; third, that all equality is based upon viscerally felt and embodied recognition, but that we will only seek the recognition of the recognized, and thus only offer true recognition to limited segments of our social surroundings—and last, the strange and subtle presence of envy. 
  • “Equality can be developed; it can evolve.”
  • “The issue is not, then, to “achieve” equality, but to tackle its paradoxes more intelligently; to work around them with wide and deep-reaching measures.” 
  • “The greatest inequality is of course the global divide between rich and poor—and thus, this must be our first and foremost focus.”
  • “we are so far from any form of global equality that we must also strive towards more local forms of equality; relative equality within the borders of countries.”
  • “We need to let some societies—nations, city hubs and local communities—become nodes in the network that is the intermeshed transnational, metamodern, world order.”
  • “deeper equality is not only an issue of distribution, but also—and perhaps ultimately—a question of transformations of the eye of the beholder.”
  • “Inequality is always caused by an act of measurement, by a beholder who judges the beheld as inferior, be it our “self” or one another.” 
  • “Inequality lives in and through human and animal bodies. And society’s institutions can work to exacerbate or combat this inequality.”
  • “both economic and social inequality leave deep physiological traces; and these in turn reproduce inequalities in any number of ways.”
  • A richer and more inclusive view of inequality serves to highlight the real mechanisms of inequality, hence giving us more and better possibilities to work for a fair and equal world order.


Six Dimensions of Inequality

Six Dimensions of Inequality:  “the economic, the social, the physiological, the emotional, the ecological and the informational.”

1. Economic Inequality 

  • This first and most obvious form of inequality in our days revolves around income, wealth and access to material resources; the ability to acquire goods and services from others.”
  • “General experience of “normal people” in rich countries is that inequality is growing. As these populations still largely dominate the global discourse, “the normal Westerners”, this has become the leading narrative.”
  • Absolute poverty (living on less than two dollars a day) has been falling sharply due to economic growth around the world.”
  • “An important aspect here is also that technological advancements have made it possible to get more value for less money.”
  • “In a smaller world, say a tribe of 150 people, you can never really get much richer than anyone else. But when there are billions of interacting people, those who gain the most central positions in the economy can become very, very rich.”
  • “the interconnected world market is creating a situation where global inequality is decreasing, poverty is decreasing, but inequality is increasing within countries, and small transnational elites are becoming much, much richer than the rest of us.”
  • If you raise the taxes and redistribute wealth too vigorously within one country, this does not only necessitate the exclusion of foreigners, but it also scares away global capital. Hence, we need effective global systems of redistribution. In order to reach a point where serious global redistribution is possible, we would require a larger systemic shift towards global governance.”
  • an exaggerated focus on economic inequality leaves us with an impoverished vision of what equality really is.”


2. Social Inequality

  • In modern societies, such social inequality comes in two related but distinct flavors: the socio-economic status dominant in adult life, and the micro-social status or “coolness” or “popularity” dominant in adolescent life and youth culture.
  • “Social capital comes in many complex forms: number of friends, in turn how well connected and popular these friends are, the depth and stability of those friendships, personal charm, good family relations, professional contacts, socio-economic status, being “cool”, enjoying the trust and admiration of people, having sexual appeal, being respected for one’s achievements, having many good stories to tell, being able to make fun and interesting events happen, and so forth.”
  • “A person who has higher social capital is one who always gets invited, who is welcome, for who doors are always open, and who can count on the support of others. A society with higher social capital can boast greater interpersonal trust, higher levels of solidarity and greater propensity to help strangers, trust in institutions and lower corruption, greater voter turnout, more cooperation and lesser destructive competition—and generally fewer people who are lonely and left to fend for themselves.”
  • “The people at the center of the social clusters have innumerable advantages over those at the peripheries. What a cruel world!”
  • “The long-term egalitarian goal must be, of course, to make such things as fashion and taste matter less for people’s social recognition and dignity.”
  • “Social inequality harms people. When more pronounced, we can expect a number of distortions of the games of everyday life. People are likely to become tenser and less relaxed, more scheming and strategic in their friendship formations, less likely to challenge norms and habits, more socially competitive, more prone to slander and mock one another, and more prone to take anti-social measures to check or reverse the social prestige of rivals.”
  • Social inequality is, of course, yet more difficult to address than economic inequality. After all, money and material resources can be transferred from one person to another, but friendships, trust, respect and inclusion cannot; they are not “given”, but only elicited through different behaviors and interactions.” 
  • An example of how a scale of people’s social capital might look like: The richer you are, the more you can “afford” to act outside of norms, comfort zones and so forth. How many bridges can you afford to burn?”


3. Physiological Inequality 

  • there is an inescapably physiological side to inequality. It really goes both ways—other forms of inequality, such as economic and social, can have negative physiological consequences, and disadvantageous physiological states or traits can in themselves be sources of other inequalities.
  • For instance, taller people make more money. People in rich countries tend to grow taller than people in poor countries. Fat people are kept at farther physical distance by slim people during everyday interactions, and distance is spontaneously kept between people of different social status.”
  • “Good-looking people have happier lives. Disabled people suffer from stigma, are discriminated against, and are thus limited beyond the inherent limitations caused by their disabilities. Poor people have worse health and worse medical care, in turn affecting economic success. People with higher status are touched more, which protects from stress, which boosts health and long-term performance. People in higher social classes eat better and do more effective workout and have less physically strenuous jobs.”
  • “You can look at a fifteen-year-old and see their gene expressions are different from more privileged peers—and more like those of older people—if their parents went through some rough times when they were little.”


4. Emotional Inequality 

  • Some of us wake up relatively carefree many mornings and experience positive rewards as the results of our actions, while others live out their lives in considerably more painful and impoverished inner landscapes. This is a form of inequality: emotional inequality.
  • “What could be a greater privilege than having a fundamental sense of “okay-ness”, even a sense of meaning, enchantment and wonder, throughout one’s life? And what could be a greater injustice done to us than having our lives filled with embitterment, resentment, self-hatred—or even sheer existential terror?”
  • “The happy person has an easier time getting things done since the reward feedback loops are more functional. This means she will be able to produce better results for herself as well as others, which means she will be more respected and gain greater recognition, attain a better self-image and thereby boosting her sense of meaning and happiness.”
  • “Conversely, the sad and depressed person doesn’t get emotional rewards for performing tasks, which wrecks the positive behavioral feedback loops. In fact, she gets emotional punishment for most of the things she does, which makes it so much harder to make an effort to change her situation.”
  • “We literally become dumber and make more short-sighted decisions when we are poor or under economic stress: we eat less healthy, invest less intelligently and we even score lower on IQ tests. When we feel like crap, we get stuck in a scarcity mindset. This is a form of emotional inequality.”
  • “Inner states and emotions are at the center of how inequality is reproduced across all of its dimensions.
  • We should offer good emotional support, training and services to all citizens from the day they are born until their dying breath. “
  • “all children could be offered simple forms of counseling during their school years, which would help many of them from being taken over by destructive emotions during their early lives and onwards. Schools could use exercises of “positive psychology”, and the general framework of schooling could be designed to elicit more positive emotions.”


5. Ecological Inequality 

  • “Ecological inequality includes such things as access to fresh air, clean water, lush vegetation, beautiful scenery, healthy and non-toxic food, clean living spaces—even sunlight.”


6. Informational Inequality 

  • “The sixth and last form of inequality is one we cannot miss in the Internet Age: informational inequality, the divide between the haves and have-nots of information and knowledge.”
  • “white US children spend on average 8.5 hours daily in front of a screen, while Hispanic and black children spend about 13 hours (watching more TV, playing video games, social media etc.), with obvious negative effects upon physical and mental health as well as psycho-social development.
  • “Those stuck at the bottom of the “attentionalist economy” are perpetually distracted from projects of self-empowerment.”
  • Too much screen-time also seems to increase the likelihood of developing ADHD, which in itself makes it difficult for you to economize that cardinal resource: your attention.”
  • some people thrive in the information age, being able to critically evaluate and access vast amounts of information and creating vibrant networks of highly skilled cooperators, whereas the less complex thinkers and less technically apt fall prey to fake news, misinformation and waste their attention, time and money on things that don’t accumulate good results in their lives.”
  • “Your access to information sets limits for your economic success, which sets limits for your physiological wellbeing, which sets limits for your emotional wellbeing, which sets limits for your social life, which sets limits for your access to information… and so on. 
  • “Most observers have failed to recognize total capital. And this means they have failed to defend and develop real equality.”


Levels of Equality 

  1. “Equality, stage one, is the struggle to make people more equal, to even out the real, visceral differences between us: the rich and the poor, the privileged and the underprivileged, the powerful and the disempowered, the enfranchised and the disenfranchised, the respected and the despised. Equality means making people more equal—in a sense, more alike. This is the classical understanding of equality within socialism and all modern ideologies. It is the kind of underlying assumption that still drives almost all the research into inequality—and all the practical policies towards the same end.
  2. Equivalence goes deeper than that. It is the struggle for people to truly feel as equals, that we are of equal value or worth. We are so very different from one another that even a theoretical state of “perfect equality of opportunity”, a perfect meritocracy, (and the even yet more impossible “equality of information”) would serve to highlight our differences and legitimize our inequalities. Such equivalence has already, to a certain extent, become reality through one of the great modern projects: liberal democracy, in which we are equal before the law, cast equally valid votes and so forth. Equivalence is also, in extension, the utopian or spiritual goal of socialism.
  3. Equanimity goes deeper still. It is the spiritual and psychological struggle to give up our deeply seated tendency to judge and evaluate ourselves and others in the first place. You could say it’s about transcending “the spectrum of judgment” (the scale of negative emotions) altogether, or to become less enthralled by the need to possess a comparatively positive self-image—an ego. Equanimity doesn’t mean that we give up discernment; we still need to evaluate the behaviors, ideas and efforts of one another. It just means there is a fundamental sense of “okay-ness”, of acceptance—that our differences and inequalities no longer remain such a big deal.


  • In practice, true equanimity would only be conceivable in a state of profound material, emotional, social and existential abundance. So it’s not really a conceivable goal for society anytime soon. It would be a society in which we obviously are not equals, but where that still—and strangely—is okay; where everyone “is okay”, where people are not only tolerated but accepted.
  • “Acceptance, in this sense, is the negative side of love. When we love someone fully, it is not only that we cherish their strengths and potentials, but that we accept their weaknesses and struggles. Such love can be found in some of the best families and long-lasting marriages.”
  • “When we no longer judge ourselves, we are no longer obsessed with the strengths and weaknesses of one another.”
  • “Equality, equivalence and equanimity—there is the progression, from leveling the unfair differences between us, to adopting a more profound sense of value for all, to letting go of our strange human obsession with impossible comparisons, ultimately rendering equality itself obsolete.”
  • “they can still show up momentarily, in limited settings, for shorter periods of time, in small incubators within our personal relationships and some of the metamodern internet tribes out there.”
  • “In such settings, where equanimity reigns, creativity must be held higher than equality. The longing for equality must not get in the way of creative processes that can help us achieve human flourishing in the first place.” 


Rethinking Class 

  • “the classical delineations of class, as one’s relation to financial capital under the industrial mode of production, no longer act as a satisfying way to understand the stratifications of our current society.”
  • “Rather, we should understand class as a complex amalgamate of different forms of capital: financial, cultural, social, emotional, physiological (including sexual) and informational.
  • “spirituality and self-improvement are in effect magnifying glasses of class distinctions.
  • “If you are already in a position of financial security, good access to information and cultural sensitivity to frauds and trends, you can partake in high quality meditation courses and self-development programs that are scientifically supported and help you learn new things about yourself. This will generally improve your life quality further and make you more socially, emotionally and economically proficient.”
  • “But if you are on the opposite end of this class spectrum—and you have little money, little access to good information, little ability to critically evaluate wild claims and promises, and generally find yourself in a more desperate situation (in a “scarcity mindset”)—you are likely to be sold ineffective magic gems, expensive diet supplements, fortune teller services, astrological consulting and all manner of harmful bogus ideas (like “The Secret”, the idea that you can “materialize” wealth by thinking of money, through “quantum mechanics”).”
  • “All of this makes you waste valuable time, money, attention and resources on stuff that further impoverishes your life.”
  • “At the top of this scale you find what I call integralists (after the followers of Ken Wilber’s elaborate “integral spirituality”). These folks are the relatively privileged ones who adopt difficult and esoteric teachings and subtle body practices, and drill them arduously for years—and who manage to keep a scientific worldview (uhm, relatively) intact in the process.
  • “Their thinking and life experience are enriched and they develop greater existential depth and higher subjective states, even to the point where they themselves can sell these services at favorable prices.”
  • “The middle segment we can call the yoga bourgeoisie. These might dabble in a little astrology and quick-fix “life-changing” courses and eat some silly supplements, but by and large they are still energized by their spiritual practices and are comfortable enough economically to do so with good conscience. They might believe in a little magic here and there, but they generally understand that they should keep such discussions to themselves and don’t spoil their professional lives in the process.
  • “And then, on the low end of the scale, we have what I call the astrology precariat. Here the magic beliefs of desperate people result in a heightened vulnerability, which leads to a cruel commercialization of the human soul.”
  • “People in the astrology precariat very often suffer from severe mental illness and distress—and often end up in psychiatric care (psychiatrists can attest to the prevalence of people with borderline syndrome who have been exploited by quacks and con artists). “


Understanding Norms 

  • Norms are simple rules, injunctions, ideals and taboos that steer our behavior in everyday life, all attached with weighted penalties and rewards.”
  • “These norms are not “ethical” per se, i.e. they don’t necessarily have anything to do with a reasoned account of what is right and wrong. They are—with the words of the classical anthropologist Margaret Mead—that which divides the “pure” from the “impure”.
  • “Examples of norms from contemporary Western societies entail such things as: don’t talk about too personal or “private” things in professional settings, don’t be racist, don’t be a pedophile, don’t have sexual relations with animals, say hello to acquaintances but not urban strangers, shave your legs if you’re a woman, don’t be obese, and so on.”
  • “different norm systems can be more or less compatible with different societal and economic systems.”
  • “there is always good reason to critically evaluate the norms of ourselves and one another. But such a critique must necessarily be an endeavour pursued with great patience as the norms aren’t rational, deliberate choices; norms are lived, felt and embodied, part and parcel of who we consider ourselves to be and how we see the world.”
  • “All norms come with calibrated rewards and penalties of different kinds.
  • “The simplest and clearest example of such norm development is perhaps the major shift in Western societies from homophobia to acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights.”
  • “The norms shifted from punishing people for being gay, to punishing people for being homophobic.”
  • “Norms follow interests and incentives.”
  • The norm system itself follows no morality and no norms, only a cold logic of penalty and reward. But as such it can bring about norms that are more or less univeralistic, more or less functional and lead to more or less sustainable consequences under the current historical circumstances. Norms often shift because groups of people led by moral entrepreneurs put in lifetimes of hard work and struggle.

“Here are some examples of norms likely to be struggled over in the coming period:

  1.  Animal rights and veganism
  2.  Pedophilia (since we can probably prevent more kids from being molested if people aren’t judged for having unwanted sexual urges and if these can be openly dealt with.)
  3.  Professional identity and work ethics.”


  • Norm systems develop through changed historical circumstances and as the result of protracted struggles between different groups for social and moral dominance. This means that different groups and value memes can be dominant during different periods.”
  • “In the US, the struggle to define which norms should apply for society as a whole even has a name: the “culture wars”.
  • “Cultural game change occurs when: populations develop into higher effective value memes, when there are shifts in the intimacy of control, the emotional regime and the degrees of equality, and when there are shifts within the system of norms.”
  • “When these three (1. culture wars, 2. forms of social punishments and rewards, and 3. forms of emotional expression) are viewed as a totality, it becomes apparent that societies can self-organize more smoothly and intelligently if they have higher value memes, are more free and equal and have more progressive systems of norms.” 


Expanding our Understanding of Democracy 

  • “How do we define democracy and how do we measure a society’s degree of democracy?” 

According to Dahl, democracy shows up as a power balance between different interest groups. Such balance forces the parties into a situation in which the following five criteria must be true:

  1. Effective participation: Citizens must have adequate and equal opportunities to form their preference and place questions on the public agenda and express reasons for one outcome over the other.
  2. Voting equality at the decisive stage: Each citizen must be assured their judgments will be counted as equal in weights to the judgments of others.
  3. Enlightened understanding: Citizens must enjoy ample and equal opportunities for discovering and affirming which choices best serve their interests.
  4. Control of the agenda: “The people” must have the opportunity to decide what should be actual political matters and which should be brought up for deliberation.
  5. Inclusiveness: Equality must extend to all citizens within the state. Everyone has a legitimate stake within the political process.


  • “democracy is more of an ideal than an actual state of affairs; that democracy remains an impossible goal worth striving towards.” 
  • “There is simply no conceivable reason to believe our current forms of governance in modern democratic societies would be the only possible and best forms of governance for all posterity.”
  • “What does it mean for democracy to develop? How did it emerge, and why? And what were the attractors that brought democracy into being?” 


Democratic Trends (how to increase collective intelligence):

  1. “One undeniable trend is the increasing dispersion of leadership and decision-making.
  2. “Another undeniable trend has to do with the increased total volume of active decision-making, i.e. the sheer volume of information processed by organs of governance, and the complexity of the processes deliberately shaped by governance.”
  3. “A third long-term trend is that democracy has evolved more checks and balances against arbitrary uses of power; hence there has been an increased accountability of decision-making.” “There are more laws restricting the use of power, the power of office is decoupled from the office-holder—legally, if not socially—and there are greater demands for transparency and motivation of decisions made.”
  4. This leads us to a fourth long-term directionality; namely that democratic participation has thickened and deepened.”“Not only do larger groups of people have greater access to media and more time and resources to inform themselves. People also have more concrete channels of participation: in advisory boards and citizens’ councils, feedback channels for public institutions such as schools and hospitals, direct links by email to elected officials and a higher number of representatives.There can be little doubt that public enfranchisement has increased dramatically.
  5. “Lastly, a fifth long-term trend has to do with the growth of democratic culture and values.“Co-development is the process of improving the quality of debate, dialogue and deliberation throughout all of society and across the political spectrum.” “It works from the supposition that we can’t possibly be right about “everything” and hence always need to learn from one another, friend or foe; if nothing else just to see where they’re coming from.”


  • a deeper democracy is one that lets solutions of higher orders of complexity emerge and gain legitimacy, thereby allowing for more complex forms of society to exist and thrive.”
  • outdated norms and investments in the status quo all work to uphold social inertia, an immunity to change.”
  • “In this case, we end up fighting off necessary developments of governance and thus of our collective intelligence. The majority position, then, is that of the false defenders of democracy.”
  • The point with democracy isn’t that the majority is always right. The point is that there is a process of free and sufficiently systematized truth-seeking and dialogue going on for small groups to be able to prove the rest of us wrong, again and again, so that values, opinions and laws can evolve and adapt.”
  • “governance is just another word for the self-organization of society (shaping the development of people’s psychologies, who in turn consciously participate in the organization of society).
  • “Democracy, it’s not a thing; it’s a process.”
  • “Democracy is forever destined to be a fairytale in a land of nowhere, a utopia we’ll never actually reach. Only democratization is really real, and only higher or lower levels of democratization can be said to exist.” 


“The Four Forms of Democracy:

  1. Direct democracy is when people—“the whole population”—vote directly on decisions for laws, regulations, taxes and public projects.
  2. Representative democracy is when people elect representatives who make decisions for them (within certain designated areas of common concern) in “free and fair” elections. the main system of most democracies in the world today.
  3. Participatory democracy is when people—i.e. the constituents themselves—get to participate directly in decision-making, carrying out decisions made, fulfill advisory functions and so forth.
  4. Deliberative democracy is democratic decision-making based upon “deliberation”, i.e. carefully facilitated discussions between the stakeholders.”


  • “The idea here is that people often need to learn from one another and listen to many arguments and perspectives before they make an informed decision, and that there are often non-obvious alternatives that are not only watered-down compromises but actually synthesize different positions so that a “better” position or “higher ground” is reached.”
  • “these four forms of democracy aren’t coherent preexisting systems set in stone which can “be instituted” at any given point. Rather, they are each a general principle which must continuously be developed in exchange with the other ones.”
  • it is a question of continuous enrichment of the existing system by means of delimited experimentation, systematic evaluation and of an ongoing discussion regarding which criteria we should use to measure a “better democracy”.
  • these four forms of democracy—the possibilities for them—cannot be accepted or dismissed with eternally and universally valid arguments. They are, of course, context dependent. The context within which they emerge includes the value meme demographics of a society, the available technological tools of communication, the degree of cultural democratic development, the amount of accumulated human experience with a certain kind of system, the surrounding bureaucratic framework, the strength and stability of the state, the kind of economy that must be governed, the size of the governed society and the availability of social and psychological innovations of dialogue and decision-making—and so forth.”
  • “there is an inherently logical relationship between the four different forms of democracy, and that they do in fact make up a coherent pattern of a greater whole. This is a pattern that includes both a developmental directionality and a manner in which the four forms counter the inherent weaknesses of each other.”
  • “there is a progression from the most basic and fundamental form to the most advanced and complex one.”
  • “The larger and more complex the economy, the greater the need for representative democracy; for politicians, civil servants, parliaments, cabinets and parties.” 
  • “The fourth and last connection between the four forms of democracy is that they each come in degenerated and pathological shapes, each constituting a distinct kind of tyranny.”
  • “Naturally, there is no reason to assume that the majority position is always, or even very often, the best one.
  • “new sources of oppression can emerge where we least expect it: in the circles most committed to democratic ideals and to deepening democracy.” 

Shapes of political Discourse (adopted from Bone, Crockett and Hodge, 2006):

  1. Debate – Compete, Argue, Promote opinion, Seek majority, Persuade, Dig in, Tight structure,  Express, Win/lose.
  2. Dialogue – Exchange, Discuss, Build relationships, Understand, Seek understanding, Reach across, Loose structure, Listen, No decision.
  3. Deliberation – Weigh, Choose, Make choices, Seek overlap, Seek common ground, Framed to make choices, Flexible structure, Learn Common ground.
  • “deliberative democracy aims for a distinct form of communication: not just “debate”, where the issue is to “win”, not just “dialogue”, where the issue is to “understand one another” but deliberation, where the aim is to create something new together and to find out how to do what’s best given the circumstances.
  • “There is an inherent developmental sequence here, paralleled in part by the value memes –  (modern debate, postmodern dialogue, metamodern deliberation)”


What is Nordic Ideology? (Understanding Metamodern Politics) 

  • Nordic Ideology are the politics required to create a metamodern society. Hanzi articulates the Nordic ideology as an amalgam of six different forms of politics – Democratization Politics, Geminschaft Politics, Existential Politics, Emancipation poltics, Empirical Politics and a Politics of Theory.  


1. Democratization Politics 

  • “This is the essence of Democratization Politics: The idea is that the state itself and its democratic governance in many layers, from the local to the transnational, becomes a developmental project, continuously discussed and improved upon.”
  • “The Ministry of Democratization is the hub in a larger de-centralized multiplicity of ongoing democratic experiments.”
  • “All cities, municipalities and counties should be allowed a certain budget for trying to improve upon their democratic system through a variety of projects invented at the local level; projects built upon civil society, solutions purchased from companies within the field and so on. These projects experiment with new forms of elections within delineated decision processes (different ballot systems etc.), new forms of citizen feedback, new ways of enriching the representative system with subcategories of direct votes, participation and deliberation.”
  • “The ministry should be responsible for supporting, in part funding, evaluating and documenting these projects and spreading best practices. Hence, there is a cycle of experimenting with new forms of governance, evaluating and pruning these, and continuously updating actual governance on all levels.”
  • “This is Democratization Politics: It’s bottom-up-top-down and top-down-bottom-up.”
  • the quality of a state’s institutions has a larger impact on the stability of a society, its economic development and the wellbeing of its citizens than any other factor.”
  • “Either we begin the slow and cumbersome process of continuously reinventing and updating democracy, or it simply drifts away into space.”
  • “We start at the meso-level, the middle level of institutions, organizations and regional clusters of innovation (based around a “triple-helix” of companies, city administrations and universities)”
  • “We start at the meso-level and then we use the increasing organizational and institutional leeway to gradually go back and forth between the micro- and macro-levels.” 


2. Gemeinschaft politics

  • “Gemeinschaft Politics is the politics of developing our informal relations; the many personal and civic relationships so vital to every aspect of a good and sustainable society.”
  • “Societies characterized by a strong sense of community, high levels of trust and mutual respect and understanding tend to be richer, less corrupt and more peaceful. Countries with weak communal bonds, widespread distrust and little sense of belonging often fall apart, sometimes violently. That’s why Gemeinschaft matters.”
  • Gesellschaft can be roughly translated into “society”, Gemeinschaft does not have a satisfying equivalent in the English language. It is often translated into “community”, share origins with the English word “fellowship”. 
  • “We could also use the Swedish word, gemenskap, which has the same origin and meaning as the German term, better fitting “the Nordic Ideology”. 
  • “To cultivate a society based more upon friendship, camaraderie, collaboration. A call to an expansion of personal relationships as well as universal, impersonal love.


“Gemeinschaft Politics is about human relationships, including

    • Those between residents in local communities
    • cultural and sports activities and other forms of volunteering in civil society
    • how well community builders and local leaders are treated and supported 
    • how class distinctions play out
    • relations between different ethnic groups 
    • the integration of immigrants
    • relations at work
    • gender relations and sexual and romantic interplays,
    • family relations
    • domestic conflict and violence
    • relations in school 
    • how much loneliness there is
    • how much bullying there is 
    • how much peer pressure there is 
    • cross-generational relations 
    • social safety nets for old age and disability
    • the quality and prevalence of friendships 
    • acquaintance network relations
    • distributions of social capital and status, 
    • levels of interpersonal trust
    • levels of average interpersonal care and solidarity
    • the degree to which people are willing to help strangers
    • norms for treating one another in public spaces and in general
    • the level of kindness and understanding people show one another
    • how judgmental or forgiving we are towards each other
    • how people reject one another and handle norm-breakers and delinquents
    • how many grudges and perceived “enemies” we have,
    • what resources there are for conflict resolution
    • which taboos we can’t talk about, how good we are at social perspective taking.”
  • “The value of social bonds and relationships is of course immeasurable. Yet, besides this value-in-itself, the quality of human relationships is a source of unimaginable wealth or poverty.”
  • “The main source of society’s ailments is that people’s behaviors, psychologies and social relations don’t function properly. In late modern society, suffering is social rather than economic.”
  • “If you look at issues like overconsumption and ecological footprints, it is not difficult to see that a society in which people have less reason to feel insecure about their social status would also be one in which a more post-materialist culture could flourish and people could more easily make sustainable choices.”
  • “Gemeinschaft Politics is closely linked to Democratization Politics.”
  • “In the past, a shared religion and the myth about the ruler’s divinity sufficed to maintain a minimum of social coherence. But with the transition to modernity, it became increasingly urgent that people shared the same culture and language.”
  • The ethos of liberalism thus demanded everyone was to be treated with the same amount of politeness and respect. In practice, however, the demand for higher levels of politeness and respect was a societal necessity to prevent daily conflicts from interfering in production and to avoid stirring up tensions that could easily erupt into uprisings among an already embittered working class.”
  • Social inequalities and injustices get harder to tolerate when people start seeing themselves and others as peers.” 
  • “the defining feature of the Gemeinschaft Politics of the welfare state was the expansion into ever more intimate aspects of the social relations within the domestic domain.
  • “As the world grows ever more complex, citizens will find it harder to avoid confusion and alienation and society will find it increasingly challenging to maintain high levels of belonging and togetherness—to maintain prosocial behavior and trust in others.”
  • “Gemeinschaft Politics gets even trickier when we are dealing with a new generation of digitally connected millennials who have to come to grips with one another in a globalized information economy. And if our children are to survive, they will need to experience higher levels of Gemeinschaft than any generation before. Their relations with one another will need to be of a much higher quality than what is typical today.”
  • “This drives us towards the frightening conclusion that even the love affairs of teenagers are of political concern, that how many friends an average old drunk has is a political issue.”
  • “In order for society to self-organize at a new and higher level, the realm of the political must expand; the political must dive into the human soul, crawl in under our very skins.”
  • “We must evolve, before civilization itself crashes under the weight of developmental imbalances as the world-system is shocked by the emergence of new super-technologies for which we are socially, psychologically and politically unprepared.”


Pathways towards a Gemeinschaft Politics:

  1. Measures to train emotional, social and collective intelligence, 
  2. Organized community housing for families and the elderly,
  3. Support for local citizen discussion clubs led by professional facilitators, and 
  4.  Making room for civil society projects in public spaces.”
  • “Schools put great efforts into teaching our children about chemistry and the correct use of grammar, but good social skills are more crucial to a happy and successful life as an adult.”
  • “Measures to increase the emotional, social and collective intelligence of children could include training sessions in school to successfully read facial expressions and body language, guessing the hidden motivations of others, participating in games of perspective taking.”
  • “All of these interventions must first be tested in lab settings, then on populations with control groups, then in society, and then be comparatively evaluated for benefits as compared to other measures.”
  • “Emotional intelligence would mean more self-regulation of behaviors and less conflict; social intelligence would mean people maneuver better in work and family environments and have an easier time finding ways to help one another out; and collective intelligence would increase the ability of people to find their respective strengths and cooperate in more complex and dynamic patterns of teams, organizations and so forth.”
  • “As things stand today, young families invest in buying expensive houses and hence drive up housing prices while amassing large debts throughout the economy, creating recurring price bubbles and plenty of leeway for system abuses of the kind revealed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.”
  • It would make more sense to have housing systems which are hybrids between private homes and shared spaces. These would form medium-sized communities with a variety of different apartments. Elderly citizens could move to shared spaces that are safe for frail and weak bodies, letting families with children move into their houses rather than the seniors holding on to them, partaking in shared gardening projects, sharing some burdens of cooking, baby-sitting and so forth.”
  • “Social isolation would drop, psychological health would improve, social skills and intelligence would go up, and people would live more sustainably.”
  • If people generally are nicer and more pleasant to have around, there is also less incentives for “private islands” to protect and shelter us from one another.”
  • “The high costs we spend on social work, policing and security are derived from people displaying anti-social and dysfunctional behaviors.”
  • “On a more general level, the average sociality of people—their mental health, personal development and social skills—sets the limits for how the economy itself functions, including core issues such as housing.”
  • “the demand is huge for spaces in which people can be “general citizens” and speak their minds on current events and pressing topics and listen to the perspectives of others.”
  • “Most of our public space has been claimed by commercial interests, but at least some of these spaces can and should be taken from the market forces and be brought into the service of the Gemeinschaft.”
  • “People and organizations should be able to book public areas that are frequented by many fellow citizens and use them as meeting places and platforms for artistic, cultural or social ends.” 
  • “A smart Gemeinschaft Politics would work from a post-feminist perspective, applying a developmental-behavioral understanding, evolving the very landscapes of desire, and seeking to reduce gender antagonism in society. A very important contributor to the apparent ubiquity of societal problems in the realm of sex, love and reproduction are the paradoxes of love and desire which seem built into the human psyche.”


3. Existential Politics 

  • Existential Politics is the practice of making the foundational existential relationship that all of us have to reality itself into a political question.”
  • Existential Politics is about creating better structures to support people in the long, treacherous inner journey that is life.”
  • “It would thus make good sense to have a Ministry of Existential Affairs whose purpose should be to monitor, understand and affect issues pertaining to the existential foundations of everyday life—in sensitive, respectful and transparent ways”
  • “Existential Politics should organize investments into new support structures for personal growth.”
  • “I would like to suggest that we reintroduce—on a wide, societal level—the medieval notion of the via contemplativa, the contemplative life path.”
  • The issue is not that society needs us to become monks and nuns, but that more of us are supported through the inner journeys of life”
  • “Religion, reflection, self-knowledge and contemplation have—even if they still exist—undeniably taken a back seat in modern society as a whole.” 
  • “the failure to pursue deeply worthwhile goals in as many people’s lives as possible, can and will be nothing short of catastrophic. And the only way to get many more of us to develop much more global and worthwhile goals is to support our genuine inner development.”
  • “Inner experience is all that society ultimately produces and all it ultimately relies upon. It’s what all of it ultimately is about.”
  • “What madness, then, to build a civilization that does not work actively and seriously with the development of inner experience!”
  • “How, then, could a via contemplativa be properly reintroduced in a metamodern context, in the context of an advanced welfare system we call the “listening society”?” 
  • One way to go about this is to endow all citizens with the “right” or “positive freedom” to, once or twice in a lifetime, take a longer time off from work (or whatever they’re doing)—for half a year, maybe a year—in order to go through a supported period of practice, learning, contemplation and self-scrutiny.” 
  • “In scientific terms, crisis only ever shows up in “complex systems”, never in non-complex ones; so you have an “economic crisis” or an “identity crisis”, but never a “crisis of the car engine”.”
  • Whether or not a person pulls through during a moment of crisis is not a matter of God-given moral character, but simply a question of behavioral psychology and the extent to which she has the necessary resources available.”
  • So the issue becomes, not to judge or congratulate, but to soberly and effectively strengthen those inner resources and societal support structures available throughout the population.” 
  • “Applied Existential Politics should support the spontaneous emergence of higher subjective states and greater existential depths in the population as well as a greater psychological robustness.”
  • “The purpose of metamodern monasteries would be to offer all citizens necessary periods of seclusion (and/or community) and concentrated honing of inner skills, such as healing from trauma, making crucial life decisions or transitions, learning new life philosophies, practicing meditation and taking care of the body, forgiving people who hurt us, sorting out ethical dilemmas, and other transformational practices.”
  • Instead of an authoritative priesthood like in traditional religions, the main agent would be a professional group of “existential social workers”, trained to deal with people’s different life crises and to act as advisors. They should be highly skilled in one or more mindfulness and meditation techniques, in turn scrutinized by scientific studies.”
  • “All of these services should be backed up on a collective level so that people are guaranteed a year off from work and be guaranteed a basic livelihood during the period.”
  • only by seriously helping people to get what they really need and want from life—by supporting serious adult development, development of the mind and the personality as a whole—that we can raise the level of behavioral functioning throughout society and the level of mental health throughout all social groups.”
  • “It should be a societal goal that 18-year-olds enter adult life with a sense of inner responsibility and self-love, which sadly is far from the case in today’s educational system.”
  • “it should be a long-term goal to train everybody in contemplation, self-observation and meditation, starting from early childhood when our brains are especially malleable.” 
  • “patterns of inner growth and experience are very hard to generalize, even to ourselves over time. We require an ongoing process in society to take meditation as seriously as reading and writing. 


4. Emancipation Politics 

  • “The idea of Emancipation Politics is to create a permanent framework for society’s ongoing debate and dialogue about freedom and oppression: If new forms of oppression emerge, in whatever subtle or obvious guise, there should be a forum for bringing this to the public eye and a framework within which new solutions and responses can be discussed and devised.” 
  • “The Ministry of Emancipation should monitor trends of experienced oppression in society, publicize its data for public discussion, gather expertise about the possible sources of such oppression and organize fora in which different competing interpretations can be put forward.”


“Such monitoring can take three different forms:

    1.  quantitative data gathered through surveys, web analysis of big data and the like, 
    2. qualitative data gathered through ethnographies and undercover participatory studies, analyses of current discourses in society and so forth, and—most importantly 
    3. people’s own filed complaints.”


“Questions that must be answered on a yearly basis are such as: 

  • What unhealthy and unwanted dependencies do people feel control their lives?
  •  In what contexts are people afraid to speak their honest opinions, and for what reasons?”
  • In what contexts are people being held back from legitimate initiatives and through what means does such holding back take place?”  


5. Empirical Politics 

  • “We don’t live in a universe where “science” tells us “the truth”. We live in a universe where the truth always lies beyond us as we plunge into its mystery.”
  • defining what is “good science” and what level of empirical foundations can reasonably be expected within each field of decision-making, and how such empirical support should be cultivated, is difficult.”
  • “Precisely because a completely science-driven politics can only ever be a naive fantasy, we must continuously bombard the entirety of politics and bureaucracy with new and critical empirical evidence.”
  • “As empirical knowledge grows, and the demands to cast one’s arguments in verified facts increase, the inner pressure to adopt ready-made template ideologies decreases.”
  • “Empirical Politics is the process through which the long and tricky path to a scientifically sound society is discovered and traveled.”
  • “Massive institutional practices are kept alive without a shred of evidence for them being the best alternative, most people are relatively poor at scientific reasoning and critical thinking, and the politics of the major parties are largely based upon loose “opinions”.
  • “the level of scientificness of society can only be measured by the density and complexity of the meshwork of intersubjective verification and falsification.”
  • “Truth is not due to your intelligence or the honesty of your beautiful soul. It depends on how hard and often and fairly and efficiently and rigorously you are checked for bullshit and mistakes, and how often and well those that check you in turn are checked themselves, and how often the checkers of the checkers are checked—and so on.”
  • “The finer and more optimized and harmonic this resonance of intersubjective verification and/or falsification is throughout society, the closer society is to the truth.”
  • “The fact that science and truth are shaky is a serious matter. The greatest terrors and the darkest nights of history are born from jammed information feedback systems, when glaring truths are systematically suppressed and ignored.”
  • “The society of the future, metamodern society, must be a society closer to the approachable but always unattainable truth.”
  • Compared to an imagined future vantage point, we can be seen as living in medieval times in which people think irrationally and superstitiously, in which we know too little about most anything. 


Pathways towards an Empirical Politics:

“The Ministry of Empirical Politics would evaluate, survey, rate and publicize the degree of evidence-based practice in all areas of public sector work and civil service.

  1. Empirical Politics would aim to improve the quality, relevance and reliability of science, throughout all branches. It’s not just a question of how much funding science gets; it’s a question of what level of quality science—this most crucial of society’s projects—has. There is a lot of low-quality research that is just too sloppily made, made for show, never reproduced or double-checked, and simply never read by anyone.”
  2. A cultivation and development of the critical meta-discussion about science and its role in society. Science isn’t too sacred to be scrutinized: It becomes sacred through scrutiny.
  3. We should increase the number of networked contacts and exchanges between the scientific fields—there’s that magic word interdisciplinarity (or crossdisciplinarity)—as well as between the sciences and the industries, both private companies, social entrepreneurs, the public sector and other agents.
  4. Increasing the average ability for critical thinking and logical reasoning in the general population. Coaches in logic and critical thinking could be educated and be employed as teachers or advisors within many fields. If more people identify as critically minded and “logical”, this will make such norms more pervasive—and hence quackery and false inferences will be more difficult to get away with within all fields of society. It has been shown that it is not enough to inform people of our own biases; we must be actively trained to catch ourselves before such biases curtail our reasoning.
  5. The founding of crosschecking media institutes. The way to increase the reliability of the media and the general discourse long-term is through cross-referenced reviews of the quality of reporting and journalism.
  6. The support of a co-developmental political culture. We don’t want the sneakiest and most loudmouthed to rule us and gain power; we want the best possible common truths and solutions to emerge through the rich processes of competition, understanding and deliberation.
  7. We could support the development of popular culture in an empirically correct direction. Whereas the arts must always remain free, it should be noted that blockbuster movies and popular outlets play a crucial role in forming people’s background understanding of reality. If physics and history are presented with glaring faults in movies and books, this certainly affects the overall level of realism that can be expected from the public.
  8. The development of the precision and reliability of everyday language. Since so much of our lived and shared reality is mediated through language, many of our political problems, conflicts and misunderstandings stem from linguistic imprecisions and the vagueness of words.It could be a long-term project to make language more coherent, exhaustive and precise. It’s one of those things that’s almost impossible to measure, but the impact of which must undeniably be vast.
  9. This one links back to Existential Politics: support of the “ontological security” of the population. Ontological security is a term coined by the sociologist Anthony Giddens, and usually refers to “the sense of order and continuity in regard to an individual’s experience”. The point here is, as noted earlier, that our commitment to truth and our ability to challenge our own opinions and conceptions depend upon how safe we all fundamentally feel in the universe.The point is to gradually increase society’s capacity for information processing and event prediction by developing our collective capacity for intersubjective crosschecking.” 

6. Politics of Theory 

  • “The last of the six new forms of politics is the strangest, the most radical and the most complex. It, more than any of the previously discussed ones, builds upon the successful implementation of the other five.”
  • “The basic idea of Politics of Theory (or “of Narrative”) is to monitor, steer and regulate the fundamental “theory of everything” that people subscribe to; our shared narrative or worldview.”
  • All societies more or less brainwash their citizens into a certain story (or set of competing stories) about reality, society, humanity and life.”
  • “Should this underlying theory of everything be brought under continuous, explicit, democratic scrutiny, or should it remain beyond our reach in terms of democratic governance?”
  • “The freedom-loving response, and the only responsible response, is to say that we will make the massive brainwashing of everyone visible rather than invisible, explicit rather than implicit, transparent rather than opaque, thought-through and well-argued.”
  • “rather than customary and habitual, subject to public scrutiny rather than to quiet consent, in the hands of the many rather than the few.”
  • “Modern society and its project of enlightenment and progress uses science and economic growth to reshape nature in accordance with the inner projections of the human mind—but it does not see its own culture and fundamental worldview as subject to change.”
  • “The postmodern critique of the modern world revealed that the underlying patterns of thought and ideas governing the lives of people can be questioned, analyzed, deconstructed, unveiled. It led intellectuals to question the universality of the modern project in its entirety. Metamodern society takes that fundamental code, our very own perspectives, into its own hands, and shapes it, just as it shapes nature; metamodernism is the historical point when society becomes conscious of itself.”
  • To the modern mind, nature is the object, the “great it” and culture is the subject, the “great me” who acts upon a silent cosmos. To the metamodern mind, culture and nature are both part of the object, whereas the subject is the transpersonal developmental process itself.”
  • Who gets to brainwash who, and on what grounds?”
  • “We can of course only evaluate what might be a “good” narrative from inside of the confines of whatever narrative we already subscribe to!”
  • “When our culture begins to create institutions of Politics of Theory, it takes a view of itself that is necessarily culturally and historically situated; culture considers how to develop itself.”
  • “We should create institutions that improve the possibilities of different worldviews to meet and argue about the proper balance between them.
  • The “more advanced” worldviews are likely to win because they tend to beat the simpler ones on their own terms.”
  • “The brainwashing should be democratically up for grabs by all contenders, and all political actors will need to specify which worldview they would like to spread and why—which means all worldviews become subject to greater self-scrutiny.” 
  • “It’s up to all storytellers of society to try their best to make their story about reality the one supported by the public and its institutions.”
  • “In the past, history curriculums were largely concerned with Biblical accounts and the good deeds and glorious victories of kings and nobles so as to ensure people became good Christians and loyal subjects of the monarch. Later, as part of the nation-building effort, school curriculums came to focus more on the histories of the nation and the state. And as societies democratized, past struggles for political emancipation and victories over authoritarian dictatorships were highlighted in these national narratives so that pupils would become good, democratic citizens. Such nation-state centered narratives still remain dominant in most schools today.”
  • “this kind of history teaching has increasingly begun to be at odds with the interests of our emerging global civilization. It teaches us to think too much in accordance with linear and periodical history; it fails to emphasize the truly global aspects of societal and technological development”
  • “it overemphasizes the construction of national identities and mythologies; it overemphasizes the role of states and ethnicities in our present era; and it provides too limited understandings of the interactions between humans and the rest of the biosphere.”
  • “postmodern historiography is better than the conventional, nation-centered one, as it does acknowledge different histories and perspectives, it has no principle by which it can coordinate and compare this multitude of histories.
  • Big History is an emerging historiographical discipline that spans the entire history of the universe: from the big bang, to the creation of stars and planets, to the origins of life and on to humankind and the present. And as such, it is a multidisciplinary approach that seeks to present a more universal and seamless narrative that bridges traditional world history with both archaeology and anthropology, as well as natural sciences like physics, cosmology, evolutionary biology, climatology and environmental studies, all viewed as historical sciences.”
  • “Big History is thus an attempt to overcome the perceived division between humans and the natural world prevailing in both modern and postmodern thinking.”
  • “In Big History, humans do not take the center stage. The central agents are the patterns of self-organization that occur both in nature and culture.”
  • The attempt to (re)construct a coherent and meaningful overview of world history in a cosmological context can only generate a provisional synthesis, a synthesis that can never be considered final or as absolute truth.”
  • “Science will always rely upon the theories of everyday life and vice versa, and so we must make certain that we as a society have the best possible understanding of our own theoretical understanding.”


If there were a Ministry of Theory, it should gather expertise within:

  • Weltanschauung (worldviewing), as first described by the Prussian philologist Wilhelm von Humboldt in the early 19th century. Basically, you try to map and study the internal logic and structure of a person or a group’s worldview, particularly a certain linguistic or ethnic community. Such descriptions should be as free from one’s own biases as possible and be describable to people who subscribe to other worldviews.”
  • “Study of value memes (and metamemes). People tend to stabilize their worldviews and values around certain discernable equilibria I call “value memes”. These, in turn, depend upon both social (or environmental) and psychological factors, which can be studied as large patterns or “metamemes” (modernity, postmodernity and so on).”
  • “Social constructionism, as described by the sociologist Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann in 1966 (or its closely related strand social constructivism), describes how people are socialized into and maintain socially constructed universes—from everyday habits to explicit theories.”
  • “Mythologies and archetypes, as described in Jungian psychology and made famous by the mythologist Joseph Campbell”
  • “The idea here is that there are certain recurring mythologies, creation myths, symbols and basic ideas we all share, and that the structure of these can be elucidated and developed.”
  • Narrative analysis is a big thing in humanities and qualitative critical social science.”
  • “Discourse analysis is a more critical, left-leaning version of the former, based upon the tradition of Foucault. This kind of method works to see underlying patterns regarding society’s power relations and whether they somehow distort how truth claims and everyday social facts are made.”
  • “Hermeneutics and the hermeneutic circle, is a rich tradition of interpretative methods and philosophies in which one’s own understanding of the world is viewed as affected by the act of studying a foreign world of understandings.”
  • “Ethnomethodology (invented by Harold Garfinkel) is the study of a group’s underlying assumptions and “hinted at” shared realities that make the abbreviated forms of everyday life possible.”
  • Imaginaries, a concept coined by the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor. You can study whole inner worlds of imagined things, and how these reflect into people’s behaviors, relations and society at large.”
  • “Studies of cultural values, such as the World Values Survey or Hofstede’s studies of the organizational culture in different countries.
  • There are already lots of useful methods for studying the “theories of reality” prevalent in society; we just need to start doing it at scale, in a more coordinated fashion and link it to the world of politics and democratic governance.” 


Integrating the six politics of Metamodernism

  • Society and our perspectives of it, in large part, are one and the same thing. What political metamodernism does; it develops our shared capacity to hold, coordinate and use perspectives”
  • All of the six new forms of politics deal with actively and deliberately creating and maintaining resonance throughout society.”
  • “Each of the six new forms of politics is, taken by themselves, deeply harmful and destructive.”
  • “You can start by only doing Democratization Politics, for pragmatic reasons—the world and our current society may not be ready for all at once. But before long, you must add another of the six processes, in the right sequence, until you get to Politics of Theory.”
  • “the sequence is: Democratization, Gemeinschaft, Existential, Emancipation, Empirical and Theory.”
  • “If society gets “democratized” (through Democratization Politics) without there being a corresponding development of people’s sense of real, embodied Gemeinschaft, we will gain more and more intimate control over one another while failing to actually identify with and trust one another.”
  • “If we were to cultivate an expansive Gemeinschaft Politics, this would quickly get very creepy unless there are also deeper forms of democratic governance. We don’t want groups of distant elites to redesign the intimate dynamics of our sexual relations; such deeper power must be owned by the public, meaning that it would require a much deeper form of democracy than is presently available in modern societies.”
  • “The same can definitely be said about Existential Politics: It must be held in place by Empirical Politics and it must be a democratically owned, open-ended and transparent process. Just imagine the avenues of New Age woo-woo taking over society with meditation, coaching, bodily practices and dumb explanations for most anything in the name of crystals, glitter and acid.”
  • “Gemeinschaft Politics must also be matched by a functioning Emancipation Politics in order to combat the new sources of oppression stemming from a deepening Gemeinschaft. It also requires Politics of Theory so that we can develop the underlying narrative around which Gemeinschaft is cultivated.”
  • “And it must be complemented by Empirical Politics to ensure the many ways of improving human relations actually work in measurable, repeatable and tangible ways. Whatever we agree upon, empirical reality always slaps us back with a cascade of candor.”
  • For Emancipation Politics to work we must have much deeper and more embodied democratic institutions (Democratization) so that we can actually discuss and deal with all the vague and complex issues regarding boundaries of social rights and the different dimensions of personal integrity and privacy.”
  • Empirical Politics that would make everything “evidence based” would amount to a coldhearted technocracy without much legitimacy unless it is matched by a corresponding democratization, and it would be alienating and dysfunctional unless it resonates with the embodied Gemeinschaft of society and the shared narratives about reality (Politics of Theory).”
  • You can’t have truth and empiricism without shared theories and narratives about what that means. In whatever way we may try to collectively approach the truth as a society, we will always be limited by the narratives and worldviews that we share, or don’t share, and this unfailingly leads Empirical Politics to its deeper source: Politics of Theory.”
  • “Politics of Theory, the most complex and profound of all the open-ended processes of political metamodernism, must be coordinated with the real, embodied communities that exist in society (Gemeinschaft) and be held in check by verifiable factual claims (Empirical), and any attempt to force perspectives down people’s throats must be challenged and counteracted (Emancipation), and it must be reconnected to a transparent democratic process (Democratization), and whatever narratives and value memes are strengthened through this process must be matched by the inner development of the population (Existential).”
  • “These are six different forces that, to a significant extent, work against each other! Emancipation Politics is out to get Gemeinschaft Politics, and Existential Politics is out to get Empirical Politics and vice versa.”
  • “One of the key findings of semiotics as a discipline is that there are certain structures, a certain form of logic, to symbols and their referenced objects that seem to hold true across languages and cultures.”
  • “an important and recurring theme within semiotics is the study of 1st, 2nd and 3rd person perspectives: I, you, he/she/it.”
  • “there is an inherent semiotic structure to the master pattern that unveils a logic for why it must be this particular pattern of interrelated political processes that emerge together.”
  • Existential Politics develops the relationship of me to myself, my subjective inner world, the relationship between 1st person and 1st person.
  • “Gemeinschaft Politics develops the relationship between us and us, between people in general, relating to another as a “you”, in 2nd person”.
  • “Democratization Politics develops the relationship of the single “me” to society, to all other people, empowering my participation and so forth.”
  • “Emancipation Politics develops the relation of society to me, of how I have the right to be treated or not treated by society as a whole, by all of you”
  • “Empirical Politics puts 3rd person constraints upon what forms of relations can be had between self and society (all of the four above relations between 1st and 2nd person); it is thus the relationship between 3rd person reality and the self/society relation.”
  • “Politics of Theory develops the relationship of self/society to reality as a whole, i.e. to reality in 3rd person. It is thus the relationship of all the first four processes (1st and 2nd person) to a commonly constructed 3rd person view.”
  • “We must develop the relationship to ourselves, to one another, between self and society, between ourselves and objective reality—and make certain we stay within the boundaries of objective reality while never failing to see and act upon real potentials that may always lie beyond our current conceptions thereof.” 


Deconstructing the Politics of Today’s World



  • “The fundamental goal of all authentic strands of socialism is to attain shared (and fairly distributed) ownership of “the means of production”. But this state of affairs is not quite the goal-in-and-of-itself; it is merely a means to achieving a higher socialist goal: a classless society that is fair, equitable, and in which everybody has what they need for a secure and dignified existence.”
  • “Socialists want the economy—and thus everyday life—not to be ruled by any blind, mechanical system, but by the relations between sensing and thinking human beings brought into benign relation with one another.” 
  • “The socialist goal is an equitable society, not merely in terms of opportunity, but also of outcome.”
  • Because so much of society is always and forever bound up with the situated social relations between people, it is unavoidable to also seek to level out the outcomes in terms of income and wealth—otherwise the privileges tend to stack up over time: wealthy family dynasties, economic classes, cartels and monopolies, corporations that flee from social responsibility and taxation, and so on.”
  • “If you have the goal to create a fair and equal society, you must also support equalities of outcome to some extent.” 
  • “Can you get equality of outcome without a developed Gemeinschaft Politics? No, because there will be so much social, emotional and physiological inequality left, and these will reproduce new forms of inequality.”


  • “the fundamental goal of liberalism is to maximize the freedom of the individual.”
  • This means that the realm of the public and the political should not unnecessarily infringe upon the private sphere and the voluntary exchanges on the market.”
  • “Rather, government should be stretched only so far that it guarantees our protection from one another and ensure that we don’t breach our freely entered agreements: As long as you don’t do anything that directly limits or harms me, you should be free to do it.”
  • “According to the libertarian mainstream account, humans are not collectivist beings who value equality over all—so the argument goes—they are freedom-loving individuals who need to find their own paths in life in order to find meaning and dignity.”
  • As such they must be allowed to compete on free markets, serving themselves first—in fair exchanges with one another, where goods and respect are earned by hard work and good character. They must reap the rewards of individual action, of innovation, of reasonable and free competition.”
  • “They must reap the rewards of individual action, of innovation, of reasonable and free competition. In this view, the closer you come to a libertarian capitalist standpoint, the farther away you are from Gulag and the secret police knocking on your door.”
  • “But concealed beneath the nice-sounding libertarian creeds of a “freedom-loving individual” is also a somewhat darker assumption: that people are most often rather selfish, and, the reasoning goes, if you try to create a society in which this truth is not honored, it will backfire seriously—because it can ultimately only be built on self-deceit.”
  • “The demand for goods and services is extremely difficult to predict on a large scale. Hence it is more intelligent to let many different agents make all the small decisions, “as if their businesses depended upon it”, rather than letting the government make up a five-year plan and be done with it.”
  • “The easiest way to defeat liberalism is by attacking its core supposition: the individual. The moment we are shown that it is a surface phenomenon and that the real unit of analysis is the dividual or the transindividual, and that freedom must ultimately be defined in transpersonal terms, we can see that liberalism must be subjected to metamodernism: Ultimately, you can never be free unless the people around you develop well, because their development affects not only your choices in every moment of your life, but even the degrees of freedom by which you can think, feel, and be in the world. We co-emerge, and freedom is a social category that functions through different emotional regimes.” 
  • “As much suspicion as liberalism harbors against the state, it ultimately always depends upon it. Not only must there be a state to guarantee the safety of individuals against the violence or oppression of one another, it must also warrant legally binding agreements and protect property rights. No capitalist market is possible without at least some minimum state action.”
  • “And if such a state does exist it will always have to make priorities, which will always limit at least some freedoms of some individuals.” 



  • “sustainability is the demand, the goal, of ecologism. Resilience and regeneration both include sustainability within them.”
  • “you can’t have ecological sustainability without social and economic sustainability.”
  • You need to get people to a point in their lives where they genuinely understand and care about issues larger than themselves.That’s Existential Politics.” 



  • “The central conservative principle is a resolve to escape the traps of infatuations with utopian ideas and puritan ideals—and to settle for “the real world”.”
  • “The insight that underlies this realization is one of humility: the world is always larger, more complex and more terrifying than our limited intellects and perspectives can imagine.”
  • “When we want to change things around, it’s usually only because we haven’t really understood how they work in the first place. And so our dreamed visions and “creative ideas” usually end up wrecking what works in the first place, and then we have to painfully try to reconstruct what has been lost.”
  • Conservatism reacts against the hubris of intellectuals.”
  • “People aren’t naturally benign, as Rousseau and Robespierre had postulated, and society does not always oppress them—it often protects, fosters and supports them. People are relatively brutish and simple, and they must refine their souls to be any good—and society’s role is more often to hold us in place so we don’t commit crimes or work against one another.”
  • “The fundamental conservative principle is to be responsible and prudent; it is to avoid what I have called “game denial”.”
  • “They work to challenge leftwing academic posturing and to demask the excesses of university campus radicalism and the youth’s blind faith in neo-Marxism and intersectional feminism. Their message appeals mostly to white young men, just as earlier forms of conservatism.”
  • “The enemy is always simplistic and collectivist radicalism. As such, conservative thinkers view themselves as opposed to “ideology”.
  • “conservatism cannot itself escape the charges of being an ideology”
  • “conservative thinkers have all been beaten down by history as they opposed abolition of slavery, universal suffrage, labor rights, the rule of scientific method over religion, the separation of state and religion, the independence of colonies, the equality between sexes, and so on, i.e. they have sided with the losing institutions, and all been proven terribly wrong in the long run, and you can always tear down their philosophical foundations, such as the belief in the individual, in free will, or in reason, all of which are manifestly false and provably so.
  • “conservatives are usually right in the short run but wrong in the long run”
  • The conservative wants to be prudent and to respect tradition and let society grow organically without effacing natural hierarchies that have been established between competent and less competent members of society.”
  • “We can ask the conservative: Which scenario is most respectful of people’s relations and traditions—one in which you have an active and deliberate Gemeinschaft Politics, or one in which such a thing is lacking?
  • “How about Empirical Politics? Which society will be most prone to crazy dreamt-up and disembodied ideologies—one that continuously finds ways of optimizing checks against bullshit, or one that doesn’t?”
  • “And if you want to be prudent and respect the narratives and traditions that have grown through history, which alternative treats such folk narratives with the greatest care and respect; one that has a Politics of Theory to continuously see if culture has gone off the rails and become destructive, or one that has no such mechanism?” 



  • Anarchy: it means without rulers; its fundamental principle is resistance. You resist all that does not hold up to the highest ethical standards, you refuse to compromise with “the powers that be” as they will always try to sell you the current state of affairs as the only “realistic” one—and you refuse to sell your soul to what the mainstream holds to be “realism”. Another world is possible.”
  • “it is important to understand and feel into the healthy and positive aspects of anarchism: a kind of inner purity married to a tender hurt and sadness, a kind of intense and deeply felt longing and hope amidst a world obviously wrought in tragedy—a profoundly tired, exhausted sense of struggle, struggle, struggle. Life shouldn’t have been this way. Something else was possible all along, and it still is.
  • “For all its game denial and attachment to anti-thesis and utopia (as compared to metamodern game change, proto-synthesis and relative utopia), anarchism is the spiritual pinnacle of modern society because it keeps reminding us of the unfulfilled potential of higher freedom and deeper equality.”
  • “anarchists can claim that the Nordic ideology is a weak liberal centrist position. But the political metamodernist knows that the spiritual ideals of anarchism are not approached in the space of resisting and destroying the modern state and the market, but in the structures that emerge on top of modern society: the post-capitalist, digitized, co-developmental space emerging in the most developed economies of the world.”
  • “And socialists can claim that we are weak capitalist apologists. And conservatives that we are compulsive Stalinist utopians and copout dreamers, libertarians that we are extreme socialists—and so on.” 

Other political positions:

  • “Classical liberalism, neo-liberalism, conservatism, capitalism and fascism are all based upon accepting the game and an attitude of “may the best player win”. They are all defenders and upholders of injustice, cruelty and suffering that just cannot be ethically justified. 
  • The chief such false assumption is that we can and should continue the current social-liberal “business as usual” politics within the framework of left-right party politics.
  • “postfaustianists, or traditional conservatives, usually favor nationalism; modernists, the mainstream in most Western societies, tend to gravitate towards the more civic stance of non-nationalism; postmodernists, the “politically correct” elite, are almost always devoted multiculturalists who unanimously defend the position of inter-culturalism.”
  • Nationalism is the position that defends what is perceived as one’s “own” nationality, state and ethnicity from the perceived threat of other cultural units.”
  • To the extent that immigrants are seen as acceptable, they should only be welcomed if they show allegiance to the majority culture and if they make real efforts to be assimilated.”
  • “nationalism as a reactionary movement does not really offer any credible paths to creating a regulated and functional transnational order, and it tends to feed conflicts and misunderstandings.”
  • “Non-nationalism is what I call the reliance upon the modernist project—in its capitalist or communist forms—to simply supersede and eventually efface the ethnic differences between people.”
  • “Communists will tend towards a corresponding vision: If people see their shared class interests, ethic differences will dissolve as ethnicity is and remains an epiphenomenon, ultimately reducible to class.”
  • It fails to see and take into account that culture matters, and that culture is a real, behavioral force with real explanatory value—which has shown itself time and again, historically speaking. 
  • Ethnicity (based on any combination of race, language, nationality, cultural customs, or religious and sometimes even political affiliations) is a force that can at times topple states and governments, and thereby efface whatever free markets or planned economies that exist under their rule.”
  • “Inter-culturalism (or multiculturalism) comes in different forms. You have multicultural state ideologies, which emphasize the importance of inclusion and diversity, claiming that the more diverse cultures you have, the better.”
  • The general idea here is that ethnic tensions are to be resolved through a high degree of exposure of ethnic groups to each other, and that more diversity is almost always preferable to less.”
  • “The problem with multiculturalism is of course that it does not qualify which kinds of diversity are good, in what quantities, and under what circumstances.”
  • “It emphasizes that all cultures are equal, and that each of them has a right to exist, but it is still somehow preferable with more different cultures rather than fewer
  • “This leads to self-contradictions: a) If all cultures are equal, this means that cultures which work against multiculturalism and seek to retain isolation and purity should also be seen as equal; b) if all cultures have a right to be preserved, they must also be allowed to defend themselves from subcultures splitting off, which then works against a greater diversity; and c) if all cultures should be exposed to one another, this leads to monoculture, which often effaces cultural differences in the first place.”
  • Trans-culturalism is a multi-perspectival and developmental view of cultures and ethnicities; it sees all of these as being in constant flux.”
  • “Cultures and ethnic identities can always be transformed, and they should be transformed to be the best versions of themselves, whenever this is possible without destabilizing people’s lives too much.”
  • “This does not mean that these values should be defended at all costs, that they should be forced upon all people under all circumstances. It is simply not worth the rapid breakdown of someone else’s world, or an ethnic cleansing, or an inquisition, or a Thought Police. But given the choice, given the chance, we can and should evolve cultures.”
  • “Cultures generally have something to learn from one another—and the aim of trans-culturalism is to make sure that this exchange is genuinely enriching, sustainable, and conducive to human flourishing.”

Understanding & overcoming resistance to the Nordic Ideology

  • “People stuck in the modern ideologies all resist the Nordic ideology: people with conservative minds think it’s almost identical to socialism (it’s not), leftists consider it a cheap sellout and a betrayal—a kind of neoliberalism—libertarians find it overbearing with state control and downright totalitarian, anarchists think it’s mainstream centrist liberalism, centrists that it is dangerous fringe extremism, and nationalists see it as an radical form of dehumanizing globalism. “
  • “Political metamodernism touches upon and comes strangely close to all of the above mentioned positions. But since it is not entirely identical to any of these, it does provoke allergies in all of them. 
  • the process-oriented party must be able to draw upon an accumulation of cultural capital (innovation, creativity, ability to manage relationships and draw attention, command over status symbols and so forth) and hence the interests and worldviews of the triple-H populations and what is sometimes called “the creative class”.
  • “The process-oriented party gathers wider ranges of people from the triple-H population (hipsters, hackers and hippies) and what I have called “the yoga bourgeoisie”, and it acts to slowly but surely spread metamodern structures throughout the political system.”
  • “In today’s world, 2019, we have some basic elements of process-oriented politics in France’s En Marche under Emmanuel Macron, Italy’s Five Star Movement and Spain’s Podemos—but they all lack a clearly metamodern political foundation.”
  • “The process-oriented party focuses primarily on the political process and on keeping very high standards of behavior. That doesn’t win mass votes and quick landslide elections, but it makes it become the most trusted and respected of all parties—or, seen differently, the least hated by all other positions on the spectrum”.
  • It does not maximize quantitative success (number of votes), but becomes part and parcel of the most central nodes of society—respected by public actors, industries and civil society.”
  • “political metamodernism has the shortest average distance to all other positions. It is closer to socialism than the conservatives, closer to conservatism than the ecologists, closer to ecologism than the libertarians, closer to liberalism than the social democrats, and even closer to the political fringes than the center and vice versa.”
  • “The essential thing to do is to marry the high stage conservatives to the high stage liberals. This isn’t so easy to do, as the “triple-H populations” from where you draw the members and whose interests you represent often have very liberal minds, which skews the recruitment and alienates the conservative types. But orderliness and creativity fit together; they need each other—especially in metamodern politics.”
  • According to the late adult development psychologist and organizational theorist Elliot Jacques, people have different “time spans of discretion”, i.e. the longest timeframe for a task they can undertake independently, without supervision.”
  • “High stage folks tend to have longer inner time horizons, at least if we believe Jacques. So we will see a lot of high-stage folks involved in the process-oriented party, and the recruitment base will grow as society becomes better at generating conditions for such people to emerge.”
  • Democratization Politics has been recognized as a potential by all of those little political parties and civil society groups who seek to radicalize democratic governance. Wikipedia counts 38 of them worldwide at the time of writing”
  • “Gemeinschaft Politics is prevalent among the many volunteering-based groups of civil society—and some professionals within public social work—who work to create “meeting places”, “melting pots” for the cultural integration of immigrants, dialogue clubs for common issues, fora for dealing with cultural traumas, and so forth.”
  • “Existential Politics in rudimentary forms exists within a lot of spiritual circles, even with spiritual political parties such as Die Violetten in Germany”
  • “Emancipation Politics, or an early form thereof, exists within the pirate parties, as these specifically guard the rights and integrity of (in)dividuals vis-à-vis governments and big corporations. They fight against excessive surveillance, creepy control and for personal informational security. You are probably familiar with the axis of political thinking dominant among hackers and Silicon Valley people: libertarianism, anarcho-capitalism and transhumanism. All of these share a libertarian ethos and are in some way on to what could be called Emancipation Politics in the metamodern sense.”
  • “Empirical Politics shows up among all those science and “evidence based politics” parties. You have one of them in the UK (established in 2010 by quantum physicist and science writer Michael Brooks), one in Australia, there have been beginnings of such parties in Sweden.”
  • “The only thing we have to struggle a bit to find is a micro movement is Politics of Theory—and You can find it in networks and think tanks which have as their explicit goal to change the meta-narrative of society. Except for my own work at Metamoderna, I can think of two such contexts: the Ekskäret Foundation in Sweden (they have a private island where they gather people to talk about the future of society) and Perspectiva in the UK (they, especially the UK chess Grand Master Jonathan Rowson, write about spirituality and personal development connected to e.g. climate crisis). Both of these are associated with the Swedish entrepreneur and author Tomas Björkman.”
  • “When you go ahead to introduce political metamodernism, others will try to reduce your project to one of the six dimensions and some will try to pin the failures of any of the micro movements onto you. Don’t let them distract you.” 
  • “Because we are both-and thinkers, the either-or people will always be objecting either to the “both” or to the “and”. We have the ability to fold through a higher dimension and show up anywhere on the political spectrum, moving transpartially to co-develop our way towards a metamodern society.”
  • “It is common knowledge that network positions of high centrality and bridging are powerful. And most people will have heard of “the power of weak ties”: Because you can have so many “weak ties”, the likelihood that someone will have some useful property goes up if you learn to make many and diverse contacts. But there are also negative ties: all the folks who will want you to not succeed and who will work—subtly or actively—against you.”
  • “Most ties are going to be both positive and negative. The composition of your ties to people across the political spectrum is in turn determined by how well you rank, in their regard, relatively to all other positions on the spectrum.”
  • you don’t have to be the most liked alternative—that’s the populist position. You just have to be the least hated one.”
  • You need to be able to truly show them that you understand where they are coming from and then share in the pleasure of dismantling all the other modern ideologies.”
  • “better you are at having solidarity with the perspectives of others, the more centrality you will have and the more functional communication you will achieve, and that will give you better things to trade for the favors of others (or withhold if they won’t play fair), and hence you will be able to outcompete them. Perspective-taking is key here.”
  • “You have to sincerely take the perspectives of others, you must sincerely care for the people who hold these perspectives, and yet you must ironically distance yourself from these same perspectives—so that you don’t jump in their hoops, but they eventually jump through yours.” 
  • “Focus on scientific methods and methodologies, i.e. on understanding how development should be evaluated and measured. Otherwise people will just assume they are at the highest stages and begin to confirm one another in these beliefs, which sets you apart from the world around you and prepares the ground for a collapse of your relations. And then we go down together like a lead balloon.”
  • Don’t go on witch-hunts. In other words, don’t try to use Jungian analysis or any other forced therapy session on folks who don’t agree with you. Don’t blame “their shadow” and don’t make hypotheses about their hidden motives. Just meet their arguments, if you can. And demand the same respect from others. Otherwise you very easily get stuck in an eternal trench war, each trying to “out-Freud” one another and gathering others to your side by effectively back-talking other people.”
  • “Don’t label people by stages and developmental traits. Speculate a bit about people’s developmental stage, sure, talk about it when mutual trust is there, but never ever use stage as an argument against anyone, and never ever try to discredit anyone on account of the developmental stage you perceive them to embody.”
  • Don’t be puritan. In a metamodern political movement, like The Transnational, people should be somewhat in agreement about the general direction, but only somewhat—say about 70% or so. Any puritan reading of metamodernism can lead to new “Jacobins” forming or to other forms of sectarianism. Metamodernism is about taking and holding many perspectives and dealing with the very substantial likelihood that we ourselves don’t have the best perspective or knowledge at any one given time.”
  • “Let go of relations gone sour. If you ever find yourself having a vendetta, try to go home and take a few deep breaths and really meditate on it. Do loving-kindness meditations to get over it, even if they won’t be nice to you. Or shout into a pillow (or beat up a punching bag if that’s your thing)
  • “Continuously reexamine your networks and social settings. Check and double-check if there is anything going on in terms of development of original arts, philosophy and scientific findings in your metamodernist circles. If not, that’s a huge warning sign. As we have seen, totalitarianism always begins by closing down art and creativity.”
  • “Take it easy. If we rush things or get evangelical, we can be sure things will backfire. If things start moving too fast, you can be sure they will crash and you are going to be the bad guy.”


Integrating death, ego, madness & power 

  • Our underlying fear of death makes us clasp to our ego, which in turn makes us resistant to truth and to honest conversations about central topics.”
  • “people who develop higher “emotional complexity” (a personality measure closely related to higher stages of self-development) tend to have much lesser anxieties in relation to death and aging.”
  • The average underlying fear of death in society is proportional to the identification with the ego, refusing the stiff procession to the grave.”
  • “The identification with the ego is proportional to our tendency to identify with certain moral and political conclusions, which curtails any attempts to challenge these notions.”
  • “Forms of inner work that let us deal with the fear of death and help us to disidentify with the ego, such as serious meditation practice, will—on average, over time and as a collective—help us maintain a more functional and sane discourse in which people more honestly seek to know the truth.”
  • “Can you see how “the ego” has hijacked truth-seeking in all aspects of politics and society, even within yourself?”
  • “You see a bunch of kids struggling against injustice, and you just know deep down and instinctively that their moral outrage is likely to be more about self-inflating identity-seeking than about genuine moral concerns; their less-than-exemplary behaviors, intellectual inconsistencies and eagerness to accept simple and judgmental ideas all belie that morality is being remote-controlled by the ego and its struggle to place itself at the center of the universe and above others.”
  • “There have been many versions and nuances of the idea that there may in fact be an intimate relationship between madness and civilization; that civilization itself is bound to growing existential challenges and an escalating inner chaos: As society becomes so much more complex, so quickly, it simply becomes more difficult for the mind to reach a somewhat stable “local maximum” or “equilibrium”.”
  • “The mysterious relationship between madness and civilization has a name: increasing complexity.”
  • “High value meme is to some extent also tied to mental imbalance and dysfunctionality. A minority of adults develop to higher value memes (e.g. Postmodern and Metamodern) but must thereby also face greater inner obstacles. Many of those who develop exceptionally high complexity and great depth have minds oscillating in “far from equilibrium states”.”
  • “I don’t have the data to prove it, but just by looking around my own circle and the people who respond to metamodernism, there is a striking pattern: very high intelligence, Mensa-level is standard, very high prevalence of ADD and ADHD, some autism (especially among the most gifted), dyslexia, very high prevalence of depression, some people who have very extreme personalities if not necessarily diagnosable, high prevalence of strong spiritual experiences, high prevalence of psychedelic experiences, high prevalence of psychotic breakdowns and so forth.”
  • “exceptionally high value meme seems to correlate with a lower level of mental health and stability, and in some sense “unusual minds” or atypical neurological structures.”
  • The metamodern mind sees that all nodes in the great weave of life long for power, for expansion, for fuller expression. And it sees that competition—just as love and trade—is an irremovable element of social reality itself.
  • power and freedom are sisters; creation is power. So any time you want to change or create anything, you must have a will to power, and any time you make a power claim, there will be adversaries who have different ideas, ideals and interests, and thus you have to own up to that adversity and you have to try to win. 
  • “without a wish to change or create anything, you can have no morality; no wish to strive for the good. Hence: pure morality requires a pure will to power. Your denied will to power is immoral, and that’s what you feel reflected in yourself when you watch me unfold without apology.”
  • We are all nodes in the great web of life; and life pulsates with the will to power. All life literally eats its way through other flows of matter and energy. All events feed on entropy; on decay. A human body consists of organic matter under
  • violent control: killed, chewed, swallowed, digested, broken down and reorganized. This is an indisputable physical fact. Power is transpersonal because all creation is co-creation, and all emergence is relational—and power, ultimately, is the will and capacity to freely create; it is the will of potentials to emerge as actualities.
  • When you run around trying to reveal, tear down and (let’s admit it) punish the egos and wills to power of others, are you really acting with the purity of intent you’re telling yourself?
  • Once you admit you want shitloads of delicious power, that you crave pure co-creation, and you see and accept that same will in all other creatures—a profound sense of equality descends upon your soul; I guess you could say “equanimity” as we mentioned earlier. At the heart of the will to power rests the most radical egalitarianism and universalism.”

Totalitarnism VS Holism 

  • “We are trying to get a hold of “the whole”, trying to relate to the totality of society.”
  • “If you become super-democratic (no manipulation, only healthy discourse, taking the perspectives of others, improving upon the process of communication, getting the best possible science, representing the wider and more complex common good, etc.) you also, automatically, challenge democracy in its current party-political representative form and gravitate towards holistic and deliberative forms.”
  • “The most democratically inclined people are the very same who end up working to dismantle democracy as we know it.”
  • That is how dialectics work: Every system breaks down under its own logic and turns into its (relative) opposite at a new level.”
  • There’s a simple formula for why this is the case: as society grows in complexity; the number and multiplicity of processes and emergent events increase; and this increases the quantity and complexity of “externalities”, i.e. adverse and unexpected effects that the processes and emergent events have upon each other (this is “fragmentation”); hence, the need for deeper and greater integration increases in order to curb the harmful effects of fragmentation; and this requires more holistic perspectives and processes; and holistic processes try to control the interactions between the many parts of “the whole”, which is a difficult and sensitive task; and when any one holistic process gains too much power and gets anything wrong, it pathologically dominates and harms all other processes; and that oppression by one process of all other social logics than its own has a name: totalitarianism.”
  • Fundamentally, that’s the choice we are left with: either A) certain disintegration as rising complexity increases the multiplicity of processes and events to the point of complete deterioration (by means of climate change, ecological collapse, culture wars, haywire technologies, developmental imbalances, etc.)—or B) taking decisive steps to make a holistic move for deep reintegration, knowing full well that we risk awakening the specter of totalitarianism.”
  • “The “liberal innocent” chooses alternative A, simply ignoring the likely prospect of global civilizational collapse due to exponentially increasing fragmentation.
  • “The metamodern activist chooses alternative B—owning up to her own inner totalitarian, seeking to understand and counter it, but also to create holistic solutions that deepen and refine the processes of integration of human actions throughout society.”
  • The difference between holism and totalitarianism is, fundamentally, that holism relates to and coordinates the pieces of the whole, whereas totalitarianism takes on the impossible and destructive task of controlling the whole. Totalitarianism fails because it subjects all pieces to the logic of one piece.
  • “Totalitarianism is holism without a corresponding capacity for perspective taking; coordination without solidarity with others’ perspectives. The necessary power balance is curtailed.”
  • “Totalitarianism is failed holism, and we need successful holism.”

Why Communism Failed & How the Nordic Ideology is different 

  • “Some people like to say that “real socialism has never been tried”. But as you’ll see in the following, it has never been tried because it has never been possible in the first place. And this impossibility is exactly what has derailed all real attempts at socialism.” 
  • in all places where you see communism (or “socialist” states claiming to attempt to achieve full communism, which is when the state itself has been rendered obsolete), there are one-party systems, human rights abuses, limits to civil liberties and severe problems with the economy—as recent relapses in Venezuela remind us.”
  • “These societies simply don’t last; their social sustainability is severely limited.”
  • “This line of argument (often put forth by libertarians and conservatives, but increasingly by everyone) holds—more or less explicitly—that communism was a mistake because it failed, morally and intellectually, to understand human nature itself.”
  • “Soviet citizens would often—amidst obvious drudgeries—emphatically insist that theirs was a superb society.
  • “People will genuinely believe things are awesome because it’s too dangerous not to. And this again interferes with any hope of self-corrective feedback cycles.
  • “Gulag survivor Solzhenitsyn described in his books how people would come to the labor camps and insist upon keeping their beliefs in the benevolence of the Soviet Union, even as they were being beaten, starved and degraded.”
  • “Post-communist societies are the least happy (relative to their levels of economic prosperity), and the longer a country stayed under communist rule, the less happy the population.”
  • “The violations of human rights flow from this jamming of the information system, from a chronic failure to successfully coordinate human behavior in the millions.”
  • “Good societies are created by A) correct analysis, B) smooth information processing for the coordination of human agency, C) the dynamic balancing of different powers—and D) the dialectical conflict and mutual interdependence between different political interests and ideas.”
  • “Both versions of modernity, capitalism and communism, brought great good and great evil. Communism enriches and modernizes society, and it kills lots of people. So does capitalism.”
  • But one version still turned out to be preferable to the other and thus won out: capitalism allied with a multi-party system.”
  • “A lot of the weaknesses of the purportedly Marxian societies can be explained by the fact that there weren’t several parties”
  • “So why were the communist societies one-party systems? Because the Marxists believed that they alone embodied the meta-ideology; that they embodied the actual, deep structures of how societies evolve and operate.”
  • “If Marxism is a meta-ideology, it makes sense to organize society as a whole within the framework of what is viewed as analytically true either way to the communist mind.”
  • “the words “holistic” and “totalitarian” are in effect the same word. When you have a theory about the whole of society, it makes sense to relate to it in a way that tries to grasp, and change, the whole of it. To relate to the “whole”, we must relate to the “totality”, even try to steer and navigate it. A challenge presents itself: How can we be holistic without falling into the traps of 20th century totalitarianism?”
  • “communism failed to change the games of everyday life, whereas other meta-ideologies have been successful in doing so, and future meta-ideologies can do the same.”
  • “The conclusion, then, is not to avoid all holistic visions of society, to avoid all meta-ideologies, but to make damn certain you get them right from the beginning.”
  • The central issue of communism’s failure was not that of some eternal, God-given “essence of humanity” being violated, but something far more mundane: that the games of everyday life were misunderstood and/or denied.”
  • “the relative failure of the communist experiments does not permanently discredit all attempts to change the games of everyday life, to evolve the dynamics by which we live, love, trade, compete and cooperate.”
  • “the failure of communism serves to underscore that you must make correct assessments of people’s behaviors—in these particular times and places in history—in order to create a sustainable social order.”
  • “The second conclusion is that “game change” already has occurred throughout history, and that it is a measure of society’s progress: If, and only if, the games of everyday life become fairer and more forgiving, can “progress” be said to have materialized.”
  • “the rules of the game—in markets, in work life, in governance, in family life, in love and sex and friendship—can and will change and develop. The question is only how, when, and under the auspices of which meta-ideology.”
  • “By definition, a communist society is that which dialectically flows from, and transcends, capitalist society and in which everyday life is governed and coordinated by another logic than economic capital.
  • This logic must be less cruel and more rational, more in line with human needs and higher stages of inner development. It is a holistic, humanized version of modernity. Communism, in this deeper and generalized sense, is holistic post-capitalism—plus the morally driven determination to achieve it.” 
  • The communists of the 19th and 20th centuries were wrong about a number of issues concerning the dynamics and attractors of modern societies and their economies. And this led to some terrible mistakes, the worst of which was trying to force institutions into being without corresponding developments of psychology, behavior and culture leading to jammed information feedback processes, which in turn led to a failing society, and ultimately to Gulag, surveillance, terror and collapse. 
  • some core aspects of communism were not in themselves false, only premature and out-of-context. Thereby I am not saying that bad consequences should be excused on account of good intentions. I am saying that partial truths should not be discarded on account of guilt-by-association. 

The communist truths shared by political metamodernism:

  1. One such aspect is the uncompromising moral determination to change the nature of everyday life.
  2. “Another is that there is indeed something that comes after capitalist relations, and that one can align oneself with such an emergence because it rhymes with discernable stages of technological and societal development.”
  3. there should be a collectively intelligent form of governance based upon a more radical and deeper form of democracy than representative party politics.”
  4. There should be a world-centric party (or meta-party) that takes on a transnational and even transcendental role of transforming society from a global perspective, and that there should be some kind of vanguard who develops and spreads a shared theoretical and organizational basis for such work. 
  5. such a process-oriented party should rely upon the dialectics inherent to society in order to guide its development and to gain power. 
  • “the Nordic ideology and its metamodern politics is not communism. It’s much smarter than that.”