The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or by Hanzi Freinacht. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.
Jim: Today’s guest is Hanzi Frienacht, coming back for a third appearance. Hanzi was on twice before when we talked about his two very interesting books, The Listening Society, and Nordic Ideology. We talked mostly about The Listening Society in ep.36 and Nordic ideology in ep.53. If you want to go deeper on some of the topics that we talk about today, which will be broader, but not as deep as those earlier podcasts, I recommend that you take a look at those podcasts.
Jim: And what we’re going to do today is we’re going to explore both metamodernism, and particularly Hanzi’s variety, which he calls political metamodernism. We’re going to sometimes shorten that to metamodernism here in our discussion, and Game B. A perhaps similar but different way of thinking about the evolution from where we are to where we’re going.
Jim: For people that want to learn more about meta modernism, a good place to look is metamoderna.org. In terms of Game B. There’s a very active Game B group on Facebook, plus 20 satellite groups on specific Game B topics. So just search Facebook for ‘gameb’, all one word. And there’s also a very comprehensive Wiki at gameb.wiki.
Jim: So, welcome Hanzi. Good to have you here again.
Hanzi: The pleasure is on my side. It’s good to be back, and good to be talking to you again, Jim.
Jim: Yeah. We had some wonderful conversations. I look forward to taking it to the next level. As I was preparing for this podcast, I went through Hanzi’s books again, and looked for quotes that, in some sense, overlapped the political metamodern perspective and the Game B perspective. And I found, I think, a good one from, I believe it’s The Listening Society.
Jim: “We live essentially in a retarded world. Our value systems do not correspond to the society we live in. Our ways of seeing, sensing, feeling, acting, and understanding do not correspond to the very society that we ourselves have created. This glitch is lethal. This is the issue of our age. To develop the political psychology of the world population. Unfortunately, stimulating such political psychological development is an enormously tricky matter.”
Jim: And that’s from Hanzi’s book. And I would say from the Game B perspective, our framing tends to be less literary and less elegant, perhaps. For instance, we say that the challenge is four parts. As humans, having gone through our levels of development, which we’ll talk about later, we reached a point where our power exceeds our wisdom. And in particular, there are four challenges, which we can think of as the metacrisis.
Jim: One is that our greed, weapons, and thirst for power have made us capable of destroying ourselves by force. We could literally… Probably don’t kill life on earth, probably don’t even kill off humans, but we can certainly knock down advanced civilization. And not only can we do it by intent, our technology has also made us capable of destroying ourselves by accident. For instance, letting loose nanotechnologies or engineered viruses that produce some of the effects that we read in our dystopian novels.
Jim: And one that’s become much more to the forefront, the last 10 years, is our pollutants and disregard for the fragility of nature have made is capable of destroying our environment, which again could lead to the collapse of advanced civilization.
Jim: And the newest one, and this one is really disturbing, because this person who helped invent the internet… Some of the communications platforms and such that exist… And not what we intended, I can tell you, but nonetheless, I think it’s fair to say, our irresponsible use of communications have made us capable of destroying our ability to understand.
Jim: And if you think about the first three challenges… If our modern communications platforms and the evolution of them have made us incapable of sense-making and decision-making, so as to address the first three, we’re completely fucked.
Jim: To give a little bit of flavor about political metamodernism again… Get back on Hanzi’s point of view… It proposes that there’s four dimensions to think about how people need to change, society needs to change… Hanzi will do much better job on this than I, but he asked me who a very brief introduction…
Jim: And those are hierarchical complexity, which is essentially how richly does one think, and with what power. Code, which you can think of as culture or our social operating system. Our state, which is, what is the typical state of mind that our citizens are in? Are we happy? Are we depressed? Are we agitated? Are we in anxiety as our more or less typical state? And then depth. I think this is a really interesting one… Talk about it’s touch points to Game B in a few minutes… Which is, what is the range of state that one has had through one’s life?
Jim: So with that, I’m going to turn it back over to Hanzi and he can say a little bit more about political metamodernism.
Hanzi: Well, yes. Thank you very much.
Hanzi: So starting a term metamodern. It has to do with… We live in a late modern society that is still based around all the key insights of the enlightenment, really. And this includes actually mechanisms such as liberal democracy, where you cast votes to substantiate truth claims, really, about the political realities and social realities and suggestions that are made, really.
Hanzi: So we have this inter subjectivity at the heart of what we do, which is fundamentally the scientific method, applied to different fields of life. The same goes, really, for the capitalist market where we, of course, unevenly have the access to capital to substantiate which products should be created on the market. But nevertheless, you have a broad public of people spending money, and then companies which evolve and produce the products that people want, or that people verify with their wallets, so to speak.
Hanzi: And then of course, this central position of science in society, and science being a kind of… In a way, even a new religion for us. That we have a sense that there is a real reality out there. An objective reality. And then this is modern society. And today we’re in a late stage of that modern society.
Hanzi: And the four challenges you brought up are similar to the ones that I’d like to bring up. I emphasize the psychological side of it more. So seeing that, well, we have… I may have said this on an earlier episode… But that we have the sustainability issue. That modern society is not going to be sustainable in the long run. And that’s visible on so many levels.
Hanzi: We live in all of these spiraling growth mechanisms and the unlimited growth on a limited planet. And all of these exponential growths of both output economic and technological output. And then of course of the ecological footprint of that.
Hanzi: And then we have excess of inequality, is really that there are inequalities that cannot be justified in the world today, which have to do with the distribution of resources, but also the distribution of symbolic goods, such as health, happiness, and opportunities in life and so on.
Hanzi: And the third one and the most subtle one, but perhaps the most pervasive one is alienation, or what Marx called alienation. But when I use the term, I actually have in mind, all of the different existential issues and the bewilderment that we feel towards this late modern life that is coming apart at the seams, that it’s difficult to find meaning. And then John Vervaeke for instance… Another, I guess you could say metamodernist thinker…. I’m not sure he self describes as such… He even terms this ‘a meaning crisis.’
Hanzi: And some people go ahead and say there is a meta crisis of late modernity. That all of these things are interconnected. And then people are looking for this golden thread. For this pathway away from this crisis, or through this crisis, into a new, more stable equilibrium. Something you can believe in, something that would be utopian or protopian by today’s standards.
Hanzi: Protopian meaning that you actually can believe in the progress narrative. That you can actually believe in that, “Hey, I can see that this society is going to get better.” Not that it’s going to grow and then grow, and then the cracks are going to grow, and then that things are going to fall apart at the seams.
Hanzi: So if you ask me what the meta crisis really, really is… Well at the deepest level, or the most basic level, I believe we have actually a sense-making crisis. I believe that what’s broken in the world is our shared reality checking. Our shared meaning-making, communication and verification of claims and realities.
Hanzi: So we end up at a terrible distance from one another. And this is, of course, visible in the political polarization. It’s also visible in post-truth society in all its forms and guises. And also just the fact that we seem to not be able to even get down to the basics of what’s real.
Hanzi: And I’d like to deepen this topic a little bit more, but particularly what I see is that we have collectively started… And I’m not the first to claim this. There were similar terms used by Deleuze, for instance, the French late postmodern theorist… That we’re resembling a schizophrenic. Collectively, we’re starting to resemble a schizophrenic mind. We’re losing grip of reality. And we’re really in this Atlas Shrugged position, but not in a heroic way, but in a clearly anti-heroic or misadventure kind of way.
Hanzi: So I think if we’re looking for the deepest solutions, we should go back to issues of knowledge, issues of reality, issues of ontology, issues of communication, issues of philosophy of science, issues of knowledge processes, and knowledge creation, and claim verification.
Hanzi: And somewhere there, I see the most central issue to be resolved, because if we can’t even communicate about reality, and if we’re at odds about the very basics of what’s real and what the human condition is and where we’re going, then we’re highly unlikely to resolve the profound challenges that we face.
Jim: Yeah. I would say that this is where Game B and political metamodernism are really on the same page. And the concept of sense-making is a core idea that we both share. And in fact, one of the Game B folks, Daniel Schmachtenberger, had some incredibly eloquent things to say about, not only the crisis of sense-making, but how we can learn to do better with our sense-making, both individually and as you’ll make the point, very importantly, collectively.
Jim: And I would point people who want to get most of Daniel’s thinking in one reasonably palpable piece… There’s a video on Rebel Wisdom called Sense-making Crisis with Daniel Schmachtenberger number one. There’s four of them, but the first one is the one that you really want to listen to. Extremely interesting. And as Hanzi says, if we can’t figure out how to make sense of our world and have agreement, at least on the facts, if not on what to do, then our chances of meeting the four challenges, and other challenges, are very small.
Jim: It’s interesting that you also met John Vervaeke, who I would say is at least Game B adjacent, as well as postmodern adjacent. And another one of our Game B thinkers, Jordan Hall, has a strong relationship with John Vervaeke and they’ve appeared together on videos, et cetera. And so while personally… Those who listen to the show know I’m a little skeptical of high metaphysics… I’m less convinced there’s a big meaning crisis, but I am definitely convinced there’s a small meaning crisis, and that the meanings that we’re making are not good for either the ongoing longterm existence of our society, or for our wellbeing. You talk about this alienation.
Jim: And one of the ideas I have found very useful lately has been another one of these French thinkers, Baudrillard, and his idea of the simulation and the levels of simulation in which society has found itself in.
Jim: And one of the things that afflicts, I would argue, many, many people in the west and the United States particular, but also everywhere that you think of the west, is that we are, in many cases, living completely away from actual life. The physical realities. That we think that things like social media is reality, or what’s on TV, et cetera.
Jim: We don’t know how to change the oil on our cars anymore. We don’t have a garden anymore. In a pinch, we wouldn’t even know how to kill a deer and butcher it, right? And I will raise my hand and say, “I can do all three of those things. Goddammit.” And people that live deeply in the simulation strike me as those who are most likely to feel alienated and most likely, in a real sense, to not feel that this strange society we live in is for them at all.
Hanzi: Yes. So there is a certain disconnect from reality in its more visceral form, and there are many movements that try to reintegrate this. Of course, you have prepper movements. You have all kinds of new survivalism that shows up. You have all sorts of workshops where you dance and prance around and get in touch with your masculinity. All of which can be good things.
Hanzi: So I do see that people are responding to these things. However, what I feel is being missed out on is the overall big goal to recreate governance in a way that communication, and truth verification, and democracy, and our institutions of decision-making, and legitimization of those decisions, and also checking with the facts and so on… That they’re really breaking down. And of course, social media is a very big part of this disconnect from everyday reality.
Hanzi: And here I’d like to actually zoom in on what I meant a little bit with the schizophrenia part. So unfortunately in my own family, there has been history of schizophrenia, et cetera. And I had an old uncle, a distant uncle, when I grew up. And he would write these letters after his schizophrenia had developed, and these letters would touch on three topics that would be intermixed, or four topics.
Hanzi: So they would all be conspiracy theories. And then in those conspiracy theories, he would find certain themes that showed up very strongly. One was pedophilia. And conspiracy theories with pedophilia and cabals and stuff like that. Another thing was UFOs and aliens. And another thing was magical thinking mixed up with astrology. And another thing was preoccupation with Nazis. In his case, Nazis were the bad guys.
Hanzi: But if you do take a look at the web today, which is this disconnected simulacra galore, really, where people travel into farther and farther reaches of combining ideas and disconnecting, really, from the lives that we do live, what do you see? Well, there is the QAnon, a huge conspiracy theory which is about pedophiles.
Hanzi: The New York Times, on page 17. They publish an article about UFOs as if it’s a real thing. Not on the first page. It’s not like they were saying, “By the way, we find…” Or actually, they are saying on page 17, “By the way, UFOs are probably real.” And nobody really reacts. And this is growing.
Hanzi: So many scholars that I respect spent years studying you UFOlogy, and they work to make this a more respectable endeavor, which is highly problematic, that we’re kind of losing… We’re not even on the same page, which kind of reality we’re talking about. And inner and outer reality, objective reality, and subjective reality, are getting mixed up here because people will object. “You cannot understand my view of UFOs unless you’ve taken enough DMT”, which is also a problematic statement. But very intelligent, very high up in society, very powerful folks are being influenced by these ideas and taking them seriously.
Hanzi: Together with that, you have all sorts of magical thinking. They come in many versions. They can be therapy forums, where you change the energies of a certain kind of family constellation system, or healing of different sorts. And of course, healing can sometimes work, but probably for other reasons than energies actually floating around.
Hanzi: You have intelligent people, scholars, using the secret style manifestations. Basically that you think about getting rich, and then you hope that will manifest in your life. You have the increasing prevalence of astrology being used therapeutically, but also taking much, much too literally.
Hanzi: And you have fascists showing up in different forms and guises. They have showed up in meta modernist settings, often with explicit sneaky plans to infiltrate the brand and make it about some kind of new right. New far right. Proprietarianism and metaright, and all the rest of it. But basically if you scratch the surface, these are Nazis, and they claim to be metmodernists. And you’ve had a similar problem, I know, in the Game B groups.
Hanzi: And so actually all of these things that I recognize from my childhood as schizophrenic symptoms, are showing up through the social media, in our own wider community of progressive thinkers who want to make a dent in this world for something positive. Often intelligent people, often sensitive people, often highly connected, highly talented, highly creative people.
Hanzi: And well, what does this tell us? Well, we’re losing. We’re losing it. We’re losing grip of reality collectively. If we can sit down and talk about the future of governance without having to spend an hour discussing exopolitics, meaning the politics of aliens vis-a-vis humans, and you have to spend a lot of time and an effort just to debunk that stuff… And they will always link you to an infinity of YouTube clips… I mean, how on earth are we going to address climate change or the lack of global governance in a haywire market society, right?
Hanzi: So I’d like to like really zoom in on that topic, and let’s try and be creative and find solutions for that. Because I think it’s in the sociology of knowledge. It’s in the processes of social media, but also of governance and also of communication here.
Jim: I’d add also, and I believe this would be the Game B response to that, is community. Real community. And you didn’t even mention the two most absurd schizophrenic… QAnon’s up there. So I’ll put QAnon in the nut bag hall of fame, but we’re also seeing a plague of flat earthers and anti-vaxxers, right?
Jim: Another group I found, called Rally Point Alpha, which is focused on sense-making… Find that on Facebook Rally Point Alpha. Three words… We don’t have too many rules there, but one of them is no fucking anti-vaxxers, right? Because as you say, they can go on for days pointing you to all kinds of crazy shit on the internet. And they’ll derail any conversation that comes anywhere close to public health with their absurd anti-vaxxer stuff.
Jim: And yet the reality is only a hundred Americans have died from the side effects of vaccines since 1950, and God knows how many millions of lives have been saved. So by even the most cursory examination, anti-vaxxerism is just plain fucking nuts. And yet, as you say, some very intelligent people have absorbed it.
Jim: So let’s talk about, in terms of theory and practice, what is this all about? And I think actually, your political metamodern framework is helpful here. We can talk about hierarchical complexity, which in kind of shorthand, you can say, “How smart is somebody?” And unfortunately, our world’s gotten too complicated for the hierarchical complexity of most people’s brains. I see it all the time, right?
Jim: The second is the code. The social operating system that we are currently operating, which the Game B analysis says has been hijacked by the short-term money-on-money return signal. And this is where Daniel Schmachtenberger does a great job. He will say that when you’re consuming information, the first question you should ask yourself is-
Jim: Consuming information. The first question you should ask yourself is who’s economic benefit was this information created for or in response to. For instance, one of the problems of science, and the sociology of science, not in the engine of science, that’s a distinction, I think is very important. I’m a strong believer that the engine of science is robust and powerful, but the sociology of science has serious issues that need to be addressed, is the funding sources for science, which drive the agenda for science and how careers are made in science, are driven by people who have vested interests.
Jim: Pharmaceutical companies, the defense complex, the intelligence agencies, et cetera, so when you read a paper, a scientific paper even, go read the acknowledgement section and see who funded this damn thing. Our core code, our operating systems as we’d say in GameB, or our deep code has some deep flaws in it that produce strong economic incentives to skew the information that we’re getting, right?
Jim: And then of course our state, one of your ones in the game, B formulation, we point out that learned helplessness and anxiety about life are both side products of our current code, right? The United States is worse than Europe in this. In the United States if you’re not careful, you could actually end up homeless, right? That is not good.
Jim: And so it seems to me that the attack on this problem of sense-making is unfortunately a pretty hard one. There is no magic, silver bullet. Daniel Schmachtenberger lays out some things we can do, but it’s not easy. And I would suggest that the hierarchical complexity problem actually speaks to at least a hint of the direction we can go, which is, even fairly smart guys like ourselves, have a hard time keeping up and parsing what’s going on. I know I do. I don’t know about you.
Jim: I’ve done a lot, at read a lot. I think a lot, but man it’s really, really hard to make sense of the world by myself. So a GameB concept is collective sense making, is absolutely indispensable. In our own view is it should be bottom up. It should not be top down. You should find other people who think sort of like we do, though with some variants. And as a group, think through the issues of the day, I’m in a group that meets weekly, for instance, to talk about the short-term meta-crisis around the U.S. elections and then subsequently the seeming brink of civil war that we’re at. These are five exceedingly interesting, smart, and varied people.
Jim: And I think the five of us together are making way greater sense of the world than any of us would make by ourselves. I’m already seeing us all change our point of views from this collective sense-making opportunity. And I would say less powerfully, but still relatively powerfully are online forums dedicated to sense-making like rally point alpha and plenty of other ones out there.
Jim: So that’s at least a short riff on this phenomenon. That it’s fundamentally hard because our world is more complex than our brains can be. And that the code or the deep code of our social operating system provides gigantic incentives for bad faith discourse. Not even if it’s knowingly bad faith discourse, but it’s all steered by the money on money return.
Hanzi: So there are a couple of threads there that are interesting to pick up. Let’s start with the money on money. Well, so we do have the open markets as a way of voting with our money and what makes sense to create, right? But as the critics of capitalism have long held and the modernist and post-modern scholars and French theorists and among many others, and post-colonial theorists have pointed out is that our money system is not a very reliable truth system because you can always manipulate what people want. And you can manipulate us through many, many mechanisms that we’re not consciously aware of.
Hanzi: So you have all, I mean, just what a huge psychological global experiment it is that we’re funneling this enormous amount of money into advertisement and affecting our own brains in ways and hijacking our attentions.
Hanzi: So that’s somehow needs to be addressed on a transnational political level. We want to increase the truth claims of our emotions that we get. We are equipped all of us with emotional predictions about what will make us happy and fulfilled and healthy and so on, through all of this advertisement that we’re picking up, whether or not we do it consciously. And then we spend our money and efforts and life, project, and trajectories and goals, according to those assumptions. But those assumptions are often fairly poor. So that’s an important part in that we’re being fed false information.
Hanzi: A second thread, I’d like to pick up on what you said is, well, let’s look at flat earth and look, let’s look at hierarchical complexity. So flat earth society is basically a lot of people who have the intuition that the world is flat, which is the intuitive belief before people knew that we live on a globe, sometime in antiquity. At least the scholars knew by Pythagoras’s time or something, people would assume that the earth was flat.
Hanzi: And if you look at an old cosmologies, Viking cosmology, there is a big tree holding it. Holding up a disc and so on, and that’s kind of the lower complexity thinking. And we all rely on a sense-making process on a community bigger than ourselves to create our reality, because if it was just up to me, and I was just walking around by myself in my garden and had to figure stuff out, I wouldn’t get far at all. Just like you said, so it’s not just of course, a group of my friends, it’s the wider community, education, science, media, and all the rest of it, right?
Hanzi: So what used to be in modernity’s earlier phases of fairly coherent, such bond between individual people and the sense-making community and reality verification mechanism. It has been severed by the internet because we now can find these bubbles. And then we can verify claims and evaluations and conspiracy theories.
Hanzi: They pop up with increasing rapidity and absurdity. The same thing with of course, flat earth that people have this intuition, and then they can verify one another and say “let’s be critical.” And they might have difficulties verifying the stuff that the claims of actual science and actual education within the flat earth community they will say again “please think for yourself.” And the answer often is not to think for yourself. The answer is to have a reliable enough community to think for you because hey, we won’t get very far if we try to think for ourselves, even on this topic. And this actually, it connects beautifully to the issue of democracy.
Hanzi: So political metamodern is the opposite pole of populism. So populism is the lowest common denominator that, well in European countries, a lot of people are irritated by the presence of Arabs who integrate poorly into their communities.
Hanzi: And a lot of people can feel this relatively viscerally in their lives, and they can see it out on the street and they have events and stories about this. So this is an easy topic for populism. Whereas climate change, you have to think abstractly, you have to think longterm, you’re not noticing anything particular here and now. And you have to trust complicated predictions, which are admittedly tentative. And you have to relate that to your own life and to the politics of your country and to the market mechanisms and to technology and the use thereof.
Hanzi: So that’s a much, much more complex issue and it requires co-development and requires good knowledge processes, good sense making processes and good translation of those sense making processes into everyday lives and communities. And that’s what we’re not very good at as society today. So political metamodernism will never be popular.
Hanzi: It’s not going to be like socialism, like a mass movement. And there won’t be metamodernist countries or societies, which are nominally metamodernist. It’s rather this funnel towards higher complexity where we build upon each other, like the scientific community. Rather, and this goes also for our existential development for our religious beliefs and so on, rather than falling back on the lowest common denominators. Which our intuitions often lead us towards, but our intuitions fail us because the world isn’t intuitive and humans weren’t invented for this kind of complex world.
Hanzi: And this complex world doesn’t just came into being, or just happens to be there. And hey, we humans are like Heidegger said cast into it. So the main challenge I think, is to somehow lift this improvement of the quality of knowledge making, to make it into one of the key political issues of our societies that governments around the world should ally and think, “okay, how can we make our politics much, much more empirical? How can we make our public’s, our populations much more critically minded? How can we make communications? How can we arm or, or equip people with the tools to evaluate truth claims, to evaluate reference systems out there in the world.” I’d like to say more about reference systems, but I’ll let you in Jim.
Jim: Yeah, that was certainly good. And certainly that would be one path forward. And I would say that’s a path that we all need to be working on. And certainly people in the GameB space are working on encouraging these kinds of things, but it’s not clear to me that faced with the fundamental dynamics that we have, that this can be accomplished top down.
Jim: I mean, look at the current American political mess we have. We have essentially anti liberalism of the left and the right. And then we have an ever shrinking number of sensible people in the middle. And you then add to that, the current state of our communications infrastructure. And we have insanity propagating itself day by day, where we now have shooting on the left and a shooting on the right. And God knows where that will escalate to. So we’re not putting all of our eggs in that one basket of top-down political change.
Jim: We do think eventually that has to happen, but GameB is more and more being focused on a day-to-day basis on localism, on building communities on the ground and on the nets that can bootstrap and essentially demonstrate that there’s a better way. And I think one of the problems with our earlier thinking, and maybe the problem with political metamodernism, is that it is more tell than show.
Jim: And so we believe that we have to put some effort into showing that organizing in certain ways makes better sense making, provides a higher quality of life, a higher state, as you would say. And that at least in a coherent group, we get the effect of hierarchical complexity, even if it isn’t in one person, but rather is in the group process. And in fact, the four pillars of GameB at least in my version of it is that it should start from the bottom and should be self-organizing, a skill we need to get better at, and we should use these networks.
Jim: And it’s interesting that while on one hand social media is destroying the mass ability to make sense. It’s also providing islands of coherence, right? The Facebook GameB group, Facebook Rally Point Alpha group, and the hundreds of others where people are using the private networking capabilities, both those groups, by the way, have thousands of members, where these tools can be used constructively, even if the public versions of them are destructive.
Jim: The third pillar of GameB is decentralized. And I think this is graph one of the bigger differences between GameB and political metamodernism is we’re pretty strongly believers in subsidiarity. That problems should be dealt with at the lowest possible level that’s congruent with their effective solution. And then finally, I think we’d agree on this one, is that a stable, but society has got to not exceed its limits and operate in a way that’s stable for hundreds of years, until you say that a stable, if there’s no one formulation is going to be stable for hundreds of years in the current world is going to have to adapt and fly, but be recognizable itself.
Hanzi: So there are, again, several threads I could pick up. Let’s start actually with the top down, bottom up thing. I’m not comfortable exactly with being framed as a top down proponent. Rather, I think as I argue in Nordic ideology, I think the solutions are going to be top-down bottom-up, bottom-up top-down. Meaning that because institutions have greater explanatory power than pretty much anything else in social reality institutions being habits of many people, which repeat themselves with regularity.
Hanzi: So going to church can be an institution, schools are an institution, forms of governance are institutions. And if you compare countries which are highly functional, even though they’re not sustainable in the long run and economies like, I don’t know, South Sudan or something where there are poor institutions, the main difference between the quality of people’s lives in these destitute places and highly ordered and organized places like Denmark for instance, is that in one place the institutions are in place and that creates order and thus freedom that people can expect what happens and they can plan long-term and they can coordinate their actions across more space and time. Including the actions of their own lives. And thus create better growth trajectories for themselves and their families, communities.
Hanzi: So we are empowered to create bottom-up solutions by the social context we are in. And those social contexts are always subject to the economic structures, the sociological structures and the political structures of governance within which we act.
Hanzi: So I do believe that political metamodernism has to start from the bottom in the sense that it has to begin with people such as ourselves who are not already enmeshed in the current system and the many interests and games and frameworks and limitations that are in that. And we can rethink things a little bit more freely at a distance.
Hanzi: Nevertheless, we then have to go in and try to change the institutions, and that’s where the top-down issues come in. And those top-down issues then create scalable versions of human growth at a wider level. So what I imagine happening next in the world is for interesting regions, they can be metropolitan regions, they can be geographical regions, they can be innovation clusters. They can be communities around the world. They can be web driven networks, but they need to start to seriously recreate the life conditions of everyday life in a certain key areas.
Hanzi: Maybe a progressive city like Berlin, for instance, what happens if Berlin gets a progressive GameB oriented or metamodernism oriented mayor with a wide alliance of the intelligent people and advisors from around the world. And then reinvents and deepens the structures of governance, deepens democracy, deepens how people can participate in governance, creating more sovereignty, more sense of responsibility, more sense of ownership, more intelligent decisions, which work with higher collective intelligence and also gain higher legitimacy.
Hanzi: And at the same time using that higher democratic legitimacy to improve the growth processes present in, for instance, education. So that kids learn to meditate and learn to be better perspective takers, pick up a more systemic view of reality and society, learn to think more cross disciplinarily, connect to issues like big history and the evolution of mankind and technology and nature itself.
Hanzi: The regions that are first movers in that development in the metamodern revolution of culture, as it were, are going to create more interesting culture and symbols and solutions. Solutions which manage complexity and thus can sell well on the market.
Hanzi: So they will be competitive on the world market, and will be able to reinvest a lot of money into that deeper welfare, into that listening society. And that requires at least some top-down. The top-down version though, is one that reaches deeper into the grassroots and reaches deeper into the human soul and coordinates more subtle levels and subtle layers of what it means to be a human being.
Hanzi: So that we are coordinated on a deeper emotional level, that we have higher trust for each other, for instance, that we are sexually perhaps more liberated and expressed, that we have lesser and fewer insecurities, that we are better equipped to communicate around difficult and complicated and complex topics. So that we can grasp more abstract goals and organize ourselves around those more abstract and long-term goals. So I really see it as a both and I’d like to stop there. I still have an issue to bring up on this verification mechanism and verifying truths back and forth and so on, and how this tends to break down. And I’d like to make that a goal of both political metamodernism and GameB. And I do think we should be looking for pressure points in the world system where these things are actualize-able.
Jim: Yeah, let’s get back to that, but let me react a little bit to the idea of, let’s say a metamodern Berlin. That would be interesting if it actually be pulled off, but unfortunately, our modern social operating systems has a zillion veto [inaudible 00:00:45:28]. Berlin is not sovereign, Berlin lives within one of the German States, Brandenburg, I believe it is. And Brandenburg has its own authority. And then Brandenburg lives in a German Federation and the German Federation lives in the EU. And the constraints on what the metamodern mayor of Berlin could actually do strikes me as perhaps disappointing.
Jim: Our GameB approach at this point, so there are certainly people working on political ideas at a higher level from Fred Weinstein’s unity, 2020 idea of running an independent candidate for president of the United States is at least nominally, a GameB idea. I think many of us are now focused on a much smaller scale to prove the principle. Which the label we use for that is Proto-B, literally a Proto-B probably starts out with a cluster of 15 or 20 people, maybe 30, and then aggregates into three or four sets of clusters, either on a piece of land or as a series of co-housing projects in a city, which we call a Dunbar, which can actually operate as a whole GameB community with GameB values, GameB decision making, and GameB institutions, and then any given Proto-B, which we believe will be many can then start multiple Dunbar’s in various places using the same social operating system.
Jim: And again, that’s another key point of our theory is high empiricism, anti-utopianism. We don’t believe that you can take a prescription from a book and say, “go do this and build a new world.” So not only do we have a Proto-B, which replicates via having new Dunbar’s in communities of 150 people, but there’ll be multiple Proto-B’s with different constitutions. Some of them could be radically egalitarian. I recently done a fair amount on research on the kibbutzes. In fact, we’ll have a scholar on kibbutzes will appear right before you on my podcast. And kibbutzes started out as radically egalitarian and over time, many though, not all of them, kind of a mixed capitalist-egalitarian system.
Jim: I would expect Proto-B’s to do the same, and they may vary with respect to social class. They focus principally on college educated people. I’m hoping others. And if I can have my way, one of the early Proto-B’s will focus on working class people and the problems that they confront in our society. And so, again, we’re really focused on proving our ideas, at a small scale, but the theory that can replicate gradually and eventually take over the whole world, wrote a paper called a…
Jim: … take over our world. I wrote a paper called A Journey To Game B which is on Medium and it lays out the long road to Game B, which is more or less as I described, could take 100 years, 80 years. And of course, the other issue is if we build enough of this and there’s a crisis, which we think is fairly likely, there could be a short road to Game B. Where let’s say there are a couple of hundred thousand Game B people out there, maybe 20,000 of them actually living the Game B life in Proto Bs, when the crisis comes, this might be the most well-prepared cadre to step forward to the world and say people, look what we’ve been doing, here’s our evidence. It’s not just bullshit and talk, this is how to organize society. And maybe at that point of crisis, there’s an opportunity for a short road to Game B.
Jim: So I think that’s the center of the Game B energy at the moment. So because nobody owns Game B and it is radically self-organizing, there are other tendencies as well but I think that is probably the strongest at the moment. And in talking about institutions, I’m a great believer in institutions. I’ve designed I believe a better monetary system for the world. You can find it on YouTube, Dividend Money, Jim Rutt on YouTube and you have an hour and a half talk by me on a better monetary system. And another area that I’m very interested in is liquid democracy. As you point out in your book, hierarchical complexity varies by person considerably, right? And really not much you can do about it, you can raise people’s hierarchical complexity a bit, but not a lot. Under liquid democracy, the idea is people proxy their votes right?
Jim: I had 30 proxies on issues from education to environment to defense to healthcare. I might vote a few of them myself, but there are lots of people who know more about it than I do and I would proxy my votes to somebody who I both had values alignment with and I perceive to be more knowledgeable than I. And that could include not-for-profits who specialize in that. For instance, I might proxy my environmental vote to the Sierra Club, which is a strong environmental organization here in the US and I might proxy my defense vote to my retired air force colonel uncle for instance. And in that way, we can have democracy and yet not be so constrained by the strong current limits on hierarchical complexity in individual voters. So with that, I’ll turn it back over to you and maybe we can talk about verification mechanisms a little bit or you can respond to those thoughts.
Hanzi: Yes. Actually, I do think for instance liquid democracy can have a role to play in the larger scheme of things. I discuss also in Nordic Ideology, I imagine that the future forms of governance that we have will be perpetually self-improving in terms of institutions so that a considerable percentage, perhaps even of the GDP, could be invested in improving governance itself so that you would have a democratization ministerium or department and countries learning from each other and spreading best practices. And there are many parts of this. There is, of course, the digitization of democracy and governance and participation, there is participatory democracy, there is deliberative democracy, there are different forms of direct democracy including delegative democracy like liquid democracy, there are many ways in which you can use representative democracy, there are sortition mechanisms, there are citizen councils and so on. And all of these, I am not a strong proponent of any of these particular blueprints, so what I imagine is not a system that is instituted.
Hanzi: Whenever you start talking about deepening democracy, people would often have a gut reaction and say, “That wouldn’t work and that system wouldn’t work.” As if they’re speaking about a particular democratic or a particular form of governance which is already a blueprint and already imagined and then you institute it. That’s probably not the way things are going to happen. And it would be too high risk and too high investment strategy. Rather, there should be a plethora of many experiments powered for instance, by Game B groups around the world which do have resources to experiment with different forms of governance and self-governance and gathering up data really. What works? Where? Under which contexts?. The same would go for a commoning and common space solutions in the economy and to a certain extent, I suppose, to cryptocurrencies and alternative currencies.
Hanzi: That we need to, on the one hand, have an empirical politics that it should be the goal of every country in the world to stay as close to reality as possible meaning check the facts, check the best practices, check the best research and all the different opinions on it and all the different angles and triangulations thereof. And today we don’t have very advanced processes for that. So empirical politics on one hand perpetually increasing our scientific capability to together grasp the world and be collectively intelligent about it, then on the other hand, using that increased empiricism, that self-improving empiricism viewed as a critical sociological knowledge process applied to structures of governance, applied to democracy, to deepening democracy. Maybe I make this sound much more status than I intend. I don’t imagine this is necessarily top-down state solution rather, I think we shouldn’t ignore the political realm, it has a role to play. But that role is likely to be somewhat smaller in fact once you set up all the actual solutions because the private-public partnerships are there, local communities are engaged, civil society is engaged in many different ways, the transnational community is engaged.
Hanzi: And looking then at how do you spread these ideas? You mentioned before. Well, so Berlin is in Brandenburg, Brandenburg is in Germany, Germany is in the EU, and the EU can override German laws, it’s true. However, it’s also true that one of the most progressive governments in the world is actually the European Commission. It is considerably more inventive and progressive than the governments of the individual European countries and they’re more experimental and they examine issues such as E-democracy very seriously. They also look at things like alternative currencies. They also look at things like climate change and they also look at constructive solutions for migration and resolving transnational issues like that. So what we want is a network or a spider web of meta-modernly informed or Game B type thinkers across the board who join in an open conspiracy against the modern world. That you see the institutions of modernity, you acknowledge them for their glory and power but at the same time, you see that the whole train is going to go off a cliff and it’s going to be a train wreck.
Hanzi: And we have to then try to get off this trajectory and towards another one, so we want to empower networks and individuals across all of these sectors. And that doesn’t have to be antithetical to the Game B communities that you envision and are already starting to cultivate, rather they should be in meshed. So I imagine an open conspiracy of metamodernists or metamodernist-type people who are pleased across. Well, in the Silicon Valley, in the heart of tech, in the heart of communication, in the heart of academia, in the UN, in key NGOs, in governance, in metropolitan governance, in local governance, in civic projects around the world, and local communities around the world, but who are aware of each other and share this meta map that modernity is awesome but it’s no longer our friend, we want to re-envision modernity, hence metamodernity. We want to see modernity from above and beyond as it were and redesign it and not just follow its culture, we want to be creators of its culture.
Hanzi: So modern life and modernity and the enlightenment taught us to study nature, to reshape nature according to human goals, human rationality, and so forth. But all of those goals and all that rationality is still subject to human culture which we are not redesigning and recreating, which creates a third pillar in my thinking which is politics of narrative or politics of theory or politics of culture. Meaning that together, we should have a kind of metapolitics, a kind of politics that envisions which narratives are defended and promulgated out there in the world and how we make sense of the world. So we should be discussing how we view reality, we should be creating an open conspiracy to deepen democracy and enrich governance and empower governance around the world, which oftentimes means empowering bottom-up processes or most of the time, that’s what it means. At the same time, doing this with the best possible empirical processes and improving those empirical processes themselves. Seeing that empiricism is not an either-or, it’s an impossible destination that we always have to try to go towards, right? That empiricism is the most difficult thing in the world really.
Jim: Yeah, I think we have a lot of agreement there in particular. On the Game B world, at least to the degree that I speak for it, and keep in mind, there are many people that say different things about Game B, that radical empiricism must be the order of the day, that the nightmares of the 20th century came from people who had the answers in a book, the Nazis and the Marxist-Leninist, and that’s not the way reality works. Thing is I’ve been spending the last 20 years doing is learning about complexity science, for instance. And the biggest takeaways from complexity science, I describe as epistemic modesty, how little we can actually predict what will happen when we make significant changes to a complex system like the society. So, anyone who thinks they have the answer whether it’s socialism or propertarianism, one thing you can count on is that they’re wrong. Rather, we can take some principles, as you suggest, more democracy and preserving localism and experiment, try things. And if they don’t work, be intellectually honest and say this didn’t work let’s try something else.
Jim: In my writings on liquid democracy, for instance, I warn in every essay, “This is an interesting idea but it has not been tried at scale.” It may have a huge flaw which I can’t see so let’s try it at the municipal level first, a small city, 25,000 people. It turns out to be a shit show and we can’t diagnose a way to fix this shit show, let’s throw it away and come up with something else. I think that’s tremendously important. And as you mentioned these different levels, brings up another bit of language we sometimes use in the Game B world which is that these levels of governance essentially should be fractio, that they should be self-similar, they have similar values and similar institutions, but they should operate at all kinds of different scales. These same principles can be applied from a community of 50 people on up to the global world, though of course with additions and modifications. But we should think about these things operating eventually at all scales.
Jim: So I suppose the key question for let’s move on to what do we actually do right now? Let’s agree we have a more or less close enough agreement on the war on political metamodernism, Game B, don’t agree on every detail but are moving in the same direction. And I’d also call out other folks who I’ve run across lately who I would describe as also on a similar mission, the peer to peer folks, Michelle Balance in his people, regenerative ecology, Daniel Christian Wahl, or some of those folks, system change by doing people, a number of people in California, Zebra United Architects of the Future, and a number of these people thinking about the same kinds of things that you and I are with a similar heart and a similar head, but with different emphases.
Jim: And one of the things that strikes me that would be useful to do is to acknowledge that there are numerous ways to head towards what comes next and to find some way for us to more formally interact with each other and intercommunicate and maintain our own points of view, but agree upon what we agree upon. In fact, I’ve labeled this opportunity, the Big Change Coalition. Strikes me that that might be a move that could be quite powerful that could be done right now.
Hanzi: Yes. So maybe some kind of world conference for this might be a good step where people become acquainted across these networks and across these different ideas. And basically one of the key tenets of metamodernism is perspective-taking and the ability to coordinate many perspectives in a creative manner, not just critiquing and deconstructing but also reconstructing. And I think this is a general sentiment and impetus that a lot of like-minded people share. So what you’re doing with the podcast is important, of course, but we could bring people closer together I guess. There are already many network meetings so one of the most important challenges to those though is this bottleneck challenge that we don’t seem to successfully imbue each other’s perspectives because they’re too complex basically. And each of us is only an individual person, we have a few key insights each. A Smart person is lucky in their life if they have a few strokes of genius and had a few theories and perspectives of their own. And we need a lot of those things to be coordinated.
Hanzi: So somehow we should get that conversation going. And not just a conversation, but we should get constructive projects going around these things. But to do that, I think, again, we need to rethink the sense-making process through which this is organized. So just bringing all of these smart and big-hearted people to the same place might actually not work. We would first have to invent the best possible way of creating resonance and shared understanding and shared emergence. And emerge is, of course, a common thread. A lot of people want to see what emerges, want to kick back and listen in and stimulate these meetings, and imagine something fantastic will emerge. And it feels like that, it feels like just around the corner, something awesome is going to emerge, something great that will affect and change the world. I’m a little bit less optimistic. I think we need to be more creative in terms of how do we guide this emergence. What is the right process of knowledge, sharing, of communication, of shared understanding, of decision-making in these varied projects and across them?
Hanzi: Yeah. I sense we lack a social institutional invention for gathering all of these diverse but aligned forces and somehow coordinating all of these efforts. I would still argue towards key points in the world, pressure points where… I imagine something like let’s say the world right now is having a bit of switching metaforce. It’s not having schizophrenia, we’re having a bit of epileptic seizure. And the world map is blinking with all sorts of dramatic events and potentials. And we chase after each one of them and comment upon them and try to understand them, and then the next thing happens. It’s the COVID crisis, it’s the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s the US election, all of these different things, right?
Hanzi: Somehow we should not be caught up in the epileptic seizure ourselves. We should somehow see this blinking for what it is and that there are going to be a lot of dramatic events and there are going to be a lot of strategic opportunities for really affecting the trajectory of the world. And we should be able to coordinate deeply and strategically around them. Now, how do we get there? Just gathering everyone under the same roof for shaking hands and giving half-hour presentations would probably not cut it. We would need some kind of profound sense-making process that is more akin to the group of five and the group of 15 that you were speaking about.
Jim: Interesting. I would 100% agree, I like the framing. And in fact, just serendipitously, my early thinking about this Big Change Coalition has been along those lines. Interestingly, I’ve drafted one other person who resonated with the idea and we’re going to attempt to build a draft core because one of the ideas I think is very important is coherent pluralism. The two words are somewhat contradictory, but I think hold them both in your head simultaneously, it’s hugely important to make this work. Is that we must be truly honoring the idea of pluralism that these different points of view are perhaps all right or at least are worth pursuing in their own rights even where they contradict each other and that’s okay. On the other hand for this thing to be meaningful, there has to be some coherence.
Jim: And one of the ones me and this other person just clopped down I’m in a couple of emails exchanges is no first degree racists, for instance, right? Or no Nazis, if you want to put it more common term. And I think we’d probably come up with a couple of dozen things that are at least candidates for a potential group to form around. And I think it’d be a great idea to have a formal sense-making process that brings potential candidates to the Big Change Coalition into a way to inter-operate with each other to discuss what should be the coherent for by some consensus process and if necessary voting process, but consensus would be better to take some of these candidates, throw them out, modify them as new ones.
Jim: And before we have this world conference, unfortunately probably it has to be virtual in the current world, that there is some hands being held across the group of entities that says, yes, this is our coherence, it’s relatively small, it leaves a lot of room for our pluralistic ways of addressing what we see that needs to be done. But we all at least agree on a small common core. And so I think that fits in nicely with the before part. The part that I think needs some work, I think it’s very good for you to point this out, is that we also have to have an after meeting process to actually turn this into action. How can there be ongoing sense-making across these groups and have horizontal information sharing? In the Game B world, we call it X-in-the-box, kind of an awkward term. But the idea is if someone finds something that works, they have a duty to document it and share it horizontally and give it to the world for other people to use.
Jim: And if all these different groups that are on there, pluralistic missions that are driven by a coherent core individually discover things that work, having a high fidelity communications platform so that people could look to it and see what does work, then indeed, those X-in-the-boxes could evolve and the people take them and modify them and there’s say liquid democracy 1.0, it’s been found to work in a Proto B in Virginia, but it had these little issues so we’re tweaking it. Somebody else tries a variant on, changes a couple of things, and says this works better. And this one, the horizontal transmission of capability could be really important in the after meetings and ongoing mechanism.
Jim: The other idea which I think I’m trying to put forth is some of the glue around this and again, it’s a little bit contradictory but that’s all right, we hold all this in our head, is that this coherence is going to be relatively small, it has to be to get a large number of people to buy into it. And so we all have to be willing to have the cultural metavalue of alignment beyond agreement. Meaning that we all acknowledge we’re on the same side even if we fundamentally disagree about some tactic or technique that one of us takes. And that in human history has shown themselves to be very difficult. The religious wars are quite informative of that, people slaughter each other by the millions over the most seemingly trivial religious issues. So anyway, there’s some reaction to your thought that sense-making, some process to bring these groups together, it’s got to be wrapped in sense-making both before and after.
Hanzi: I think actually I’d like to propose something a little bit bolder actually, that the coherence should be based around goal formulations and we should have some kind of membership and…
Hanzi: We should have some kind of membership and constitution in which the key goals are written down. And then whatever is argued, whatever is proposed to the group as a project, as a perspective, as an alliance should be coherent with those goals. So, I would argue that a goal that is of utmost importance is that we have to put sense-making processes and higher truthfulness of the political processes, of communication processes, making society more scientific in a profound sense, but also more existentially mature should be our core goals. Then we can argue about what that means in practice. But some kind of directionality, some kind of transcendent goal is very important for it not to be discussion club.
Hanzi: Not only would I see that the transcendent goal should be an inspiring idea on paper through which we convene and then try to materialize different realities in our meetings and our collisions. We should also ritualize somehow, meaning that there should be rituals of greeting, rituals of recognition. There should be rituals of conflict resolution. There should be rituals for different realities being different perspectives should somehow be honored. And this is not super easy, but it’s at the same time not inconceivable or not impossible. Religions have been invented in the past for less complex problems than these. But what we’re looking for then is in a very secular sense now, and a very abstracted sense, a kind of liturgy or a kind of ritual culture that can carry all of these complex, diverse minds and experiences.
Hanzi: Some go deep in the psychedelic direction. Some go deep in the existential spiritual direction. Some go deep than the ecological and animal rights direction. Some go deep into the nitty gritty of democratic processes. Some go deep into the intricacies of communication and startups and entrepreneurship of different kinds. We need somehow to be able to house all of these in one energy container where people still feel the coherence and we feel it strongly so we feel drawn to it. And this, I would like to say also as a word of warning, is what our friends, the fascists are looking for the meta right. But they imagine this structure or this transcendence to be taken from the traditional religions or some kind of cathedral building or some kind of totalitarianism or some kind of one will that asserts itself and some kind of profound unity.
Hanzi: And we’re not looking for unity. We’re looking for, as you say, a pleuraverse, a coherent pleuraverse, or a complex ontological object is a term I like. Yeah. You said it better. You said what was the term you used, Jim?
Jim: Coherent pluralism.
Hanzi: Coherent pluralism. Yes. So we should create, as it were, a digital temple of coherent pluralism, where on a very visceral level these energies are directed. And I think that is something that we really need to be doing now. I see all of these geniuses out there, and I see all of these fantastic ideas and projects, but I see that the coherency is too small. I also see that a lot of people go crazy along the way, because there is no container or structure which corresponds to a temple to contain it. And what we get instead then is that people run off on these fascist experiments because they get long so much for this transcendence, for this oneness and unity.
Jim: Yeah. A lot of very good points there, which I am 100% in agreement with, I believe. Let me first react to rituals. I think that is really important because again, our world is so complex relative to our own hierarchical complexity that simplification and repetition actually help us deal with the complexity of the world, right? Not having to figure out Denovo, how to deal with every situation. And that reminds me that the original Game B, the 2013 version, we actually had a few little rituals. One was we referred to each other as peers, kind of analogous to the Soviets and their comrades thing, right? And we thought that was really important because we were antihierarchy, radically decentralized. We are all peers. Let’s just call ourselves peers. We should go back to doing that. I don’t know why we didn’t.
Jim: The other one that we had. I don’t think we ever actually clarified it, but I would call it explicit and excessive politeness. Right? We never ever until it started of fail then the group fell apart, were we anything other than very polite with each other. Right? And excessively so almost like a Frenchman at court in Louis XIV day or something. We would very much defer to the other person. We would apologize very easily and quickly should we give offense, et cetera, and kind of a stylized explicit politice might be an interesting ritual as an example that could help push away the known problems of dealing with people, particularly in a non face-to-face fashion.
Jim: But anyway, certainly it’s worth some serious thought what those rituals would be, right? That could be a process to think about and propose and either adopt by consensus or reject or modify possible rituals as part of this formation process. I like it. I think it’s neat.
Jim: But then the other one, which is something close as a goal formation, at least as an intermediate goal since making in truthfulness, I think is really good. In fact, the two bases of Game B, which came from a conversation Jordan Hall and I had at the Santa Fe Institute in 2008 were honesty and good faith. And we’ve always said that Game B has to be a world in which honesty and good faith is a winning strategy and not the sucker strategy that it is in late modernity and not far from sense-making and truthfulness. And I think somewhere in that space, we can find a goal formulation that a fair number of people would agree to. So I think that’s good.
Hanzi: And of course, people are going to have different ideas about what truthfulness means, but as you said with a politeness part that if we can show it, don’t tell it. If we can create a culture around it, then perhaps we can contain more of this energy. And I mean, the energy is tremendous really. And it’s part of why the world is flipping out so much. People are having all of these profound, spiritual experiences. People are having all of these intellectual awakenings. People are waking up to systems perspectives across disciplinary perspectives. People are trashing their old world views. They’re getting into entirely new networks of people.
Hanzi: And at the same time, you see a lot of these people not knowing what to do with all of these things that they access often through the web and being unable to create something in their own lives around it. And to be able to create something in our own life, we often need companionship then. So if we can increase the amount of friendship between what I would loosely term, all the meta modernists out in the world, the key element would be a kind of camaraderie or friendship. And the Alliance would be against the modern world, but not, now with a very strong caveat, not the integral traditionalist or the transcendental fascists who want to build the cathedrals rather than skyscrapers again and to dismantle democracy and stuff like that, but rather a conspiracy against the modern world, but not a blast from the past, but a blast from the future. And somehow placing ourselves in a future protopian vision, being in that transcendental space, being in we are inventors of the world. We are inventors of culture.
Hanzi: We are going to invent rituals with which we can with which we can convene as not just intellects, not just dry intellects, but as whole human beings. And that there are four different parts of this creative class, which I feel is very instrumental to the meta modernist movement. And this class has yet to wake up to its own coherence because it’s so diverse, but there are deep structural issues which connect its members. And I’ve said this before, it’s a triple aged population. It’s the hippies, people who are good at inner development, spirituality, shamanism, and all the rest of it, and maybe taking indigenous perspectives. There are the hackers, the Silicon Valley types who can understand and reinvent information and its flows. There are the hipsters, more my own type, who are good at understanding culture and philosophy and seeing how new symbols and new meanings can be created in the world and new code can be created to run our culture.
Hanzi: And then there’s the fourth age, which wasn’t in the Listening Society. It has been added later. They’re hermetics, the people who are more towards the occult side. Arguably perhaps the most dangerous group, because they love all of these symbols and they love all of these rituals so much. And they look so deeply for the meaning in these that they can sometimes fall into traps of, well, unhealthy occultism or even that even far right stuff. But the hermetics are the experts on creating these new games, on these new rich rituals. So we somehow need to draw on all of these four competencies, which really they can’t be situated within one person because each of them takes so much talent and so much personality and so of your core being to develop that people have these different specialties. And yet together they are all part of … Well, they don’t fit in, in modern society. They have a specific class interest, which is transnational, and it doesn’t like the top-down governance structures. They don’t fit in the labor markets. They often fall down in precariat positions, flip out for reasons. They often have ADHD and ADD, sometimes high functioning autism.
Hanzi: So somehow the temple I imagine for Game B, the virtual temple which has this transcendent goal, has to draw all of these four groups and let these energies intermingle. And then I think actually the solutions are likely to come because all of these people are talented and inventive and already connected. And with more proper support, they’re likely to be more successful in society at large, meaning, well, they can get into politics if that’s what they want with the support of their like-minded people. And a very, very important part of this is to set up a really robust structure to protect the mental health of these groups. Because what we’re seeing also is that they keep flipping out. And here we are, we’re trying to save the world. We’re chasing each other on the web trying to communicate, trying to understand each other.
Hanzi: And climate change is ongoing. Political decay is ongoing. Democracy is on demise. Chinese autocracy is on the rise. Digital autocracy is on the rise. Troll factories are controlling the public discourse. The media has a real hard time making sense of all of this using all the old paradigms to interpret it. So I think if we could do one thing, if we could get a group of 10,000 of the four quadruple aged population from around the world to really know each other in groups of 150, we would have a lot of the situated projects that I imagine either way. Right?
Jim: Yeah. I love it. There’s a lot to it. As you were saying that, you have the hermetics. I thought that was very interesting because one of the groups that we’re now catalyzing in Game B, we call them the archetype narrative people.
Hanzi: Yeah, yeah. That works too. I like ageists. So it’s going to be quadruple age, right?
Jim: Yeah, yeah. We certainly got hippies, we certainly got hackers, we certainly have hipsters. And we were adding in the hermetics as an interesting maybe overloaded term, but it makes another nice age. Why not, right? And again, and I think this was one of the reasons there’s a slight veto within Game B right now to actually produce groups on the ground is the concern you put in about mental health, right? That people are just finding it stressful as fuck to have these insights about the world and how deeply screwed we are. And yet there is a way forward and yet we’re not taking it. And to do this as one person living in your mother’s basement in Bavaria, as one particular person I know is, is very bad for their mental health. Right? And if they were to live in a community of somewhere between 30 and 150 people that’s well-populated with the four ages plus some other skillsets and they have meals together in common and they have conviviality parties on a regular basis and they sing and dance together, this could by itself, fundamentally upregulate people’s mental health.
Jim: We’re not designed to be alone. We are acculturated creatures and those few of us who’ve started to break free of the culture that we’re embedded in experience a fair amount of stress from that. And some people can handle it, some people can’t. And so building communities on the ground in which people are embedded in a like-minded prodo culture strikes me as I can see why there’s such demand for that right now.
Hanzi: And so I really liked what you said before about politeness. And I think on the meta modernist forum we only really have two rules and it’s kindness and respect and don’t spam. And that’s it. But then later on, I’ve added unofficial ones, and it’s no UFO’s, no a magic, and no Nazis. Those are kind of an immune system because, hey, openness has a cost you have to pay a certain cost to imbue in new information, to respond and so on. And we have to put some limits on it. So to make this filter an open one but an effective one, so that perspectives are drawn in widely but still don’t devolve, right? So these are perhaps necessary at this point.
Hanzi: Other than that, there are certain norms that I think should be very important. For instance, there are rituals for many things in our societies, but there’s not a real ritual for honoring when somebody changes their mind. Rather, we tend to lose prestige when we do. So somehow this needs to be turned on its head. It should be an honorable thing to do to listen in, take up somebody else’s perspective and argument and change one’s position. It doesn’t mean being a pushover or anything like that. It just means that we get stuck in all of these discussions, which are not necessarily conducive to creative solutions or to mental health for that matter, or to good relationships and friendships. But if we had a norm, a strong norm, which says it’s okay to change your opinion and you’re expected to do so fairly off, then we could evolve together more quickly really, and to coordinate on a deeper level.
Jim: Yeah. We’re explorers, right? And explorers expect to learn new things. Right? I absolutely agree. That’s an excellent one. And of course, this kind of weirdo thing called cancel culture is exactly an opposite of that, right? They hang somebody from the lamppost because of something they said in 1985. That’s ridiculous. People aren’t who they were in 1985. The world has changed a lot. And so honoring the fact that we can and do and should change over time, I like that a lot as a meta ritual for this what comes next movement.
Jim: Well, I think we’re getting long here on time, as we always do. We always have such good conversations. It’s hard to keep them within the bounds of an hour and a half podcast, but I think this has been an exceptionally rich and fruitful discussion. I hope that we can continue to maybe take some active steps to bring these things into being afterwards.
Hanzi: Yeah. I think we have a good plan to take over the world, so we should definitely … I mean, let’s see how people respond to it and see if our formulations here speak to people. And maybe if we have a critical mass of people who would like to get something like this afloat, a very intentional community of truth seeking, which is an open conspiracy against the modern world which tries to bring us to a new equilibrium of more sustainable development and more inner development and relational development, then, hey, I think we can go get buried with satisfaction, right? Because then we would have taken a good meta step towards this new world we want to see.
Production services and audio editing by Jared Janes Consulting, Music by Tom Muller at modernspacemusic.com.