The Nordic Ideology — Book Review

The Buddha, dressed in rash guard, contemplating Nordic Ideology
Kelly Creek, Clearwater Country, Idaho

I’ve been meaning to review Nordic Ideology for some time now. Written by Hanzi Freinacht, a made-up character, in a villa in Switzerland, it’s an awesome compilation of theoretical and actionable (well, sort of) metamodernism. The actual authors are two young men, both of whom I consider spiritual traveling partners, Daniel Görtz, and Emil Ejner Friis, and one whom I’ve met and hung out with — Daniel.

And what exactly is it? It’s an awesome compilation of theoretical and actionable (well, sort of) metamodernism.

What is metamodernism? It’s an intended evolution of post-modernism, where instead of breaking down everyone into smaller and smaller intersectional boxes, each with their own truth, it allows for those different diverse perspectives, while attempting to get people to synthesize and integrate those views to create a society that shares a common vision.

And though Daniel and I may disagree exactly on what I’ll say next — that metamodernism is actually a societal level evolution of empathetic development — I’d also argue that we agree on much. And that is written in this awesome book.

First off, the book itself is a comprehensive attempt to create cross-societal coherence on how to create a world where not only can we all get along, but we all can flourish. Hanzi does this by providing a platform for taking apart all the negative arguments against the notion a better world is possible. He starts off with a definitional chapter, which he gets very close to the true mathematical spirit of attractors. This is not a small feat — philosophers and pundits are fond of pulling terms from a variety of literatures — especially math and science — and using them incorrectly. Hanzi gets a ‘A’ for his execution. He then leads into a comprehensive discussion of societal Games — how different advocates for different worldviews argue that they alone are the keepers to pure human nature (which is usually negative.) He disrupts those arguments by discussing Game Change evolution — how to make things more fair, and inclusive. He does a great job in wrapping up Part One by explicitly discussing norms as the primary mode of moving a society forward. This section on cultural evolution is a must-read for any social architect.

Part Two is Hanzi’s attempt at actually defining what that better society might look like. He proposes a six-point interactive view of politics — the Politics of Democratization, Theory, Empiricity, Emancipation, Existence and Gemeinschaft. One can see the joint minds of Friis and Goetz at work here, in the way they have labored under the shared aegis of Hanzi to really beat the incoherence out of their system. If the shared Hanzi misses one thing, though, it’s my own work on how knowledge is created on actually making their utopian improvement project work. It’s my biggest criticism of the work, but their views are not unexpected, considering where Hanzi is at in his combined life. They argue for Ministries dedicated to each of the Politics, with a mission to move things forward. But how exactly to create these benevolent bureaucracies is something that even in the best circumstances in the world, we’ve not done such a great job at. Hanzi is a fan of personal development, but at times misses that creation paths for the institutions he desires may not lead them to the place he wants them to go – precisely because the people involved won’t be evolved enough. Understanding how empathetic development drives emergent behavior would go a long way here.

The book itself builds on Hanzi’s earlier book — The Listening Society — and having read both through twice, I highly recommend both. If you’re immersed in this hopey-changey-systemy stuff like I am, you can jump to Nordic Ideology. If not, you’re going to have to go back to The Listening Society and bone up on what a ‘dividual’ is (hint — very close to how I talk about external definition and independent agency development) as well as some of the other verbiage.

For a book like this, I found The Nordic Ideology from a readability perspective as positively delightful. For as complex as this book is, while I did need quiet to read it (I read it literally in the middle of the wilderness, and earned my ‘read’ by carrying the damn thing 28 miles on my back!) it is really something else. I’m too old to achieve this level of true proficiency in both of their non-native language. But I can admire it.

So, great job, lads/Hanzi! I’m looking forward to the discussion around the next book. Once more into the breach!

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