You’ve probably heard of eras like “The Enlightnment” or “The Renaissance”, but what would we call the era we live in today?

I discovered the idea of Meta-modernism in a YouTube video about the “Zeitgeist of Rick & Morty” of all things, and I feel like it perfectly describes not only what we as a species seem to need right now, but where it appears we’re heading. Let me explain…

Around the time of World War One, the world entered the era of “Modernism”, a time categorised by rationality and socio-technological progress. This was a time of hard fact and scientific truth, but also of great optimism after the horrors of World War One. People felt like they were making history with every step, this philosophy brought things like Futurism, Nudism, and Utopian town planning, but its hyper-rational thinking also resulted in the belief that Eugenics was a good idea. And we all know how that turned out…

Modernism started to fall out of fashion in the 1930’s, in the midst of the Second World War. While the western world was toying with the idea of Eugenics, Nazi Germany was way ahead of them. This, and other factors I don’t pretend to understand, triggered the start of WWII and the world was brought to a sudden realisation of just where some of these Modernist ideas would take them. Post-modernism was born.

In a truly human turn of events, everything Modernist was rejected, even the parts that didn’t contribute to the outbreak of war. People were just done. They rejected the optimistic attitude (who wouldn’t in the aftermath of such a devastating war?) of the Modernist era and did a complete U-turn.

People of the post-modernist era tended to reject the possibility of reliable knowledge and a universally accepted reality in favour of personal and “alternative” facts. Where the Modernist era was optimistic, the post-modernist era was one of apathy, pessimism, and nihilism. (This is the era the Baby Boomers grew up in, BTW)

You can see all this in the 1980’s with the rise of the anti-vaccine movement, or just in the general state of politics in the 2010’s. No one cares about the real world, no one cares about the facts or truth. They just care about what they feel is true. Politicians today can lie through their teeth and get away with it because those that support them, support them, not their policies. And those that have no interest in this game of fame don’t vote, even when they would agree with the policies of a particular party. Those people feel like their vote doesn’t matter, or that the decision won’t affect them.

Hopefully you can see how decades of post-modernist influence has shaped the world and its politics. But now, this philosophy of “alternative facts” and “personal truth” is coming crashing down with the realisation that there really is a universal, consistent reality. That our personal and national decisions really do matter, a lot. Of course I’m referring to Climate Change and the latest great mass-extinction.

Meta-modernism acknowledges that both viewpoints have merit and both are needed equally to maintain a stable world. Modernism and universal truth are required for scientific progress, and post-modernism is required for those more human of problems. Meta-modernism is the ability of people to swing back and fourth from one to the other as needed. To use the strengths of both to find the solution to a problem.

The younger of you may recognise meta-modernism in the culture of the Internet. It can be wildly absurd and reject all normality one moment, and the next moment, be a catalyst for social change on issues people truly believe will result in a better world. Like with, or the protests in Hong Kong right now. And this, that video argues, is the reason people love Rick & Morty right now, because it perfectly captures the attitude to life young people (like, 40’s and below we’re talking about) have right now.

I just hope that this trend of increasingly dynamic worldviews continues to pull us towards looking more at “The Whole” of every issue, but that’s a topic for another time.

– Raingram


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