The following is a slightly edited extract from Hanzi Freinacht’s book ‘Nordic Ideology: A Metamodern Guide to Politics, Book Two’. This is the second book in a series on metamodern thought, a work of popular philosophy that investigates the nature of psychological development and its political implications.
It is thus hardly a stretch to say that any kind of politics which does not maximize sustainability (again: of the present society or any imagined future one) is not the optimal Green politics, not in alignment with ecologism. Naturally, some forms of ecologism are of a reconciliatory bent (seeking to “reconcile” humanity with the environment), some are anthropocentric in their environmentalism, some are spiritual and focus upon attaining unity with “deep ecology”, some are unforgiving against the excesses of humanity while focusing on solidarity with ecosystems and the biosphere, some are transformational (seeking to transform the ecosystems of the world with human intelligence), some are futuristic and others primitivistic. You have pragmatists and hardliners, in the emblematic example of Green parties, the German die Grüne, these are called the Fundis (fundamentalist environmentalists) and Realos (realist green politicians).
And then there are all the mixes with other ideologies and struggles: ecosocialism, green liberalism, techno-environmentalism, ecofascism, human ecology of indigenous minority rights, multiculturalism, and so on.
What they all share is a focus on sustainability in some form or other. Even if ecologist thinkers like Arne Næss, Murray Bookchin, Gary Snyder, Theodore Roszak and today’s Tim Morton and Roger Scruton all have different takes on this issue, it is not a stretch to say they are somehow committed to sustainability—although the word itself only became commonplace after 1987 with the Brundtland Report.[i]
What, then, can be learned from political metamodernism in terms of sustainability? A thing or two.
You cannot have a sustainable societal system (economy-layered-in-biosphere) without a corresponding and matching sustainability in all fields of development: system, culture, psychology and behavior (as discussed here). In other words, you can’t have ecological sustainability without social and economic sustainability. And how do you get there?
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. You need to make sure people have good enough social relations to not get stuck in prisoners’ dilemmas that hold back our development and potential to care and not get stuck in materialistic status games. That’s Gemeinschaft Politics. You need to see to it that the systems of governance can nimbly and effectively redesign themselves so as to deal with new environmental challenges when they become known, in a way that gains support and legitimacy. That’s Democratization Politics. You need to make certain that all of society is aligned with what is empirically shown to create circular economies and cradle-to-cradle processes, and you need to make sure that you spot and correctly understand environmental threats such as climate change and that the public is well informed and has the ability to respond reasonably. That’s Empirical Politics. And you need to make certain that ideas about ecology, sustainability and humanity’s place in a larger context of nature permeate people’s consciousness and all of our ideas about life. That’s Politics of Theory. And unless you’re an ecofascist and just don’t care about the freedom of people, you need to make sure that all of these processes can play out without oppressing people, and that’s Emancipation Politics.
So tell me again how you were going to create a sustainable society without political metamodernism. Can you see how unrealistic any ecologist ideology would be without these processes?
Any version of ecologism requires political metamodernism to be truly sustainable. Any environmentalism not underpinned by the Nordic ideology is simply less sustainable, less resilient, less regenerative. That’s all, folks: the Nordic ideology is greener than Green.
Hanzi Freinacht is a political philosopher, historian and sociologist, author of ‘The Listening Society’, ‘Nordic Ideology’ and the upcoming books ‘The 6 Hidden Patterns of History’ and ‘Outcompeting Capitalism’. Much of his time is spent alone in the Swiss Alps. You can follow Hanzi on his facebook profile here, and you can speed up the process of new metamodern content reaching the world by making a donation to Hanzi here.
[i]. Named so after the Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland who led the UN’s work on understanding and defining sustainability.