Announcing a New Progressive, International Art & Research Centre
Because capitalism has already undermined itself with extraordinary force spawning a new historical phase that is at once postcapitalist and barbaric.
From its inception, capitalism was driven by “a universal energy which breaks every limit and every bond and posits itself as the only policy, the only universality, the only limit and the only bond.” What was that universal energy? Profit – the sole passion that replaced all other forms of greed. Today, this is no longer true.
Today, zombie megafirms and bankrupt megabanks enjoy power in inverse proportion to their profits, courtesy of endless injections of public monies. When external shocks, like Covid-19, infect the massive bubbles supporting socialism-for-the-oligarchy, sinister exploitation deepens, insufferable inequalities skyrocket, and climate catastrophe beckons. And as our stunted democracies are further poisoned, electrified border fences, xenophobia, and new forms of barbarism rise up.
Capitalism is, silently, being replaced by a technologically advanced feudalism. Neoliberalism is now what Marxism-Leninism used to be during the Soviet 1980s: an ideology utterly at odds even with the regime invoking it. Following the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1991, and of financialised capitalism in 2008, we are well into a new phase in which capitalism is dying and socialism is refusing to be born.
What happens next will depend on whether an effective progressive movement can emerge to counter both faces of barbarism: the Oligarchy-Without-Borders and the New Fascists who promise to make the disenchanted “proud again” by turning them against each other. Set up by Greek parliamentary party MeRA25 (a branch of the transnational European movement DiEM25, and a member of the Progressive International), mέta‘s mission is to become a unique international intellectual, artistic, scholarly and cultural hub for radical progressive movements across Europe and the world: a centre not only for researching postcapitalism but also for working toward its… civilisation.
In 1916, Rosa Luxembourg warned that “bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism.” However, in 1940 Walter Benjamin cautioned progressives never to forget that every piece of culture is saturated in barbarism.
To defeat barbarism, rather than to give it a new spin, mέta acknowledges the dual role of both theory and art: emancipatory and oppressive. Culture and analysis can liberate just as powerfully as they can support new tyrannies. Luxembourg’s and Benjamin’s invocations shall therefore remain central to mέta work as we break with the dystopic present and imagine the world anew.
Through art and research, argument and poetry, mέta will strive to help progressive movements break with a dismal present to imagine the world anew – to grasp our present historical moment so as to pave the way to a world worth fighting, and living, for.
 Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, 1844.
 Quoting Karl Kautsky.
 “In the historical materialist they have to reckon with a distanced observer. For what he surveys as the cultural heritage is part and parcel of a lineage [Abkunft: descent] which he cannot contemplate without horror. It owes its existence not only to the toil of the great geniuses, who created it, but also to the nameless drudgery of its contemporaries. There has never been a document of culture, which is not simultaneously one of barbarism. And just as it is itself not free from barbarism, neither is it free from the process of transmission, in which it falls from one set of hands into another. The historical materialist thus moves as far away from this as measurably possible. He regards it as his task to brush history against the grain.”
Culture forms one of mέta’s main priorities — since it is through art and research, argument, and poetry, that mέta works to break with a dystopic present and imagine the world anew.
Art is a trauma, crisis, anger, agony. In art, the whole of society is embraced and encapsulated — along, of course, with its various barbarisms. Art is political by definition, as it implicitly and explicitly addresses the freedom of the individual and of the collective to express themselves and to take action. It affects both those who produce it and those who contemplate it. And, crucially, it has the capacity to make us think and imagine. Art can effect change — if not the world as a whole, then at least people’s perceptions and dispositions. It can criticize and challenge. Art can affect people; it can make us see reality with fresh eyes and reveal hidden perspectives. It has the power to disclose issues to us that are kept secret or are distorted due to economic and political interests. The cultural domain of mέta engages in the diagnostics of our current era and formulates a vision for a postcapitalist future via the medium of arts, and by becoming a platform for performances, exhibitions, talks, and conversations — one step at a time.
Director of mέta’s Cultural Sector: Nikos Kanarelis
We live in politically eschatological times. Late modernity is expiring. We know that an era is coming to a close — or rather, that it has already come to a close. We do not know what will follow. And we desire to know how to play a part in shaping it, in turning it towards a path of human dignity.
The contradictio in terminis encapsulated in the global ‘permanent crisis’ forms the least of symptoms. The primacy of bankrupt entities (bankruptocracy), the limits of financialisation, the emergence of wholly new types of automation, the development of artificial intelligence, the radical digitisation of everything: all these merely indicative facts circumscribe a system that cannot be properly called capitalism anymore. We already witness the first stages of an emerging era that can only be described by that which it succeeds: we live in postcapitalist times. These may eventually prove to be utopian — or dystopian. Or anything in between. mέta’s Academic & Research Sector strives to understand this future by studying the past and correctly diagnosing the present.
It has been noted that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, invoking the need for serious reflection on the end of the existing order and a transition to a postcapitalist way of life. Yet the future of the world economy is but one of the aspects of postcapitalism. After all, capitalism itself might be prima facie an economic system, but it has evolved into a comprehensive political, cultural, anthropological and international order. Postcapitalism, however it might evolve, is not merely the modification of an economic system; it will prove to be a new political, cultural, anthropological, civilisational paradigm — a new era indeed. A dystopian one, a utopian one, or anything in between. And the turbulences of the gradual transition are to be witnessed by all. The oligarchic decline of liberal democracy engenders countless variations of authoritarian tendencies; the supply chain of tributes for the global minotaur are increasingly interrupted; novel desiderata for emancipation are articulated; the chasms between megacities and provinces nurture silent, cold civil wars; the emergence of a non-Anglophone, non-Atlantic, non-liberal, non-bipartisan state as the planet’s largest economy is just around the corner, overturning a two-centuries-old order; the changes in global demography and geopolitics are vertiginous; climate change is threatening our very existence. Transformations of gigantic proportions radically reshape the world before our very eyes.
Terms with a post- or meta- prefix do not necessarily run on parallel courses; they describe a new reality by citing what this reality succeeds — they describe thresholds. However, now that late modernity is reaching its final threshold, realities described by terms with a post- prefix (or μετα-, meta-) seem to be reaching a convergence. Postcapitalism, postsecularism, postcolonialism, postmodernity, and the list goes on: we are reaching, we have reached, a common threshold. The post- prefix declares a lucid realisation that something has ended, but also a certain opacity concerning that which commences.
mέta Academy explores that which now commences, and strives to achieve lucidity on all of its varied aspects — via research, discursive and academic means, publications, conferences and seminars.
What comes after an end of times? What kind of reckoning does this day of reckoning dictate? These questions form the general field of our enquiry.
Director of mέta’s Research Sector: Dr Sotiris Mitralexis