The Downfall of Modern Age and the Idea of Postmodernist World

By Shin'ichi Hisamatsu

At this time in our modern age a great "Noah's" flood with poisonous waves that dash to the skies is rushing and engulfing the whole earth, and we are in it up to our knees. All humankind is really facing an unprecedented crisis of destruction. It is no longer a carefree age in which, due to lack of understanding, one may doubt whether or not we are in fact in a crisis.

It is needless to say that this crisis is not anything to be overcome by time-worn medieval forms of faith in God or Buddha. Trying to rescue humankind from this crisis by the power of the nation-state, which is the source of these poisonous waves, or any union of nation-states is just like trying to stop the flood by pouring more water into it.

The construction and embarking of a new epoch-making ark is now an urgent necessity at this critical time. Fellow humans! Let us stir ourselves into activity by facing this serious crisis of ours squarely, strain the wits of ours, we being the chief of primates, and by kindling our passion to save the world!

Look! Isn't it a fact that the air we are breathing in every moment is becoming poison gas, the water we are drinking everyday is changed into violent poison, and that all living beings are thereby perishing? In spite of this, nations, which modern age has invested with absolute sovereignty, are respectively treasuring the scientific powers of destruction developed by modern age. They are escalating humankind's anxiety, and, in a time of emergency, will turn the world literally into a burning hell.

We can no longer entrust the absolute sovereignty to nation-states which are the main instigators of such a human catastrophe. Because of national egoism, in the realm of politics world peace is made impossible, in the realm of economics the free circulation of material and spiritual wealth is obstructed, and in the realm of ethics universality for all humankind is lost. Even philosophy and religion which should be most free, universal, and creative, have descended to leaning towards national interests. History is addicted to the past of nations, forgetting the future. Science excludes human ethics and promotes the evils of the nation-state, and thus even culture is not altogether free from national patriotism. In sum, there are too numerous evils to mention produced by the structure of the nation-state.

Recently, to be sure, because of the deadlock of the nation-state, and urged by the universal public opinion of all humankind, various approaches apparently directed towards going beyond the nation-state such as the United Nations, the World Federation of Nations, and various forms of international conferences are being promoted and emphasized. However, insofar as the nation-state is taken as the basic unit, they cannot be free from the radical and fatal evil inherent in the nation-state. Accordingly, how often disarmament conferences (such as SALT) have been held, we see no condemning and abolishing of the nuclear bomb. Instead, it is strengthened by qualitative improvement, and thus the expense of preparing human-slaughter that amounts to billions and billions of dollars cannot be reduced.

We can no longer afford to be mere spectators for these hopeless signs of the downfall of modern age, and thus in searching for the source of this downfall, we are trying to establish a means not only to cut out completely the cancer of modern times, but also to regenerate the world creatively and concretely on the basis of a new postmodernist philosophy and religion. Thus, the "Postmodernist Manifesto" was first published in 1971 1, and we have begun to row an ark to overcome the disastrous flood.

In my opinion, the basic principle of existence lies in the inseparable oneness of the universal and particular, equality and differentiation, form and matter, principle and fact, voidness and being, and the one and many. It is said: matter without form is blind, form without matter is empty, equality without differentiation is false equality, and differentiation without equality is false differentiation. In the same way, the one and many, the universal and particular must also be inseparably one.

As is clear from the standpoint of world history, the medieval ages went to ruin because they lacked manyness and particularity, while modern age is going to ruin because it lacks oneness and universality. Opening and establishing the Postmodernist age lies in restoring oneness and universality which have been lost in our time and taking as the basic principle of existence the inseparable oneness of the one and many, the universal and particular. We have no space now to discuss this idea in detail. In short, however, our so-called renovation of the world is essentially different in its dimension from a restoration or revolution inside a state or country.

By quoting the "Postmodernist Manifesto" below, we call upon all fellow members of humankind for self-realization and rising to action.

The Postmodernist Manifesto

1. Postmodernist Awakening: Through the Postmodernist Self-Realization based on the F.A.S. philosophy of Awakening we shall reconstruct the independence of all humankind, which has collapsed through the intrinsic contradictions and phenomenal dilemmas of modern age.

2. Ultimate Sovereignty Rests with All Humankind: Departing radically from the structure of pluralistic national egoism which has been fatally deadlocked, we shall establish one united and universal sovereignty of all humankind, and develop ethics, polity, economy, and culture of, by, and for all humankind.

3. The Communalization of All Material and Spiritual Wealth by All Humankind: Liberating all material and spiritual wealth from the monopoly of nationalistic control, we shall commmunalize them for the service and benefit of all humankind.

We call out to all the fellow humans to overcome the disastrous "Noah's" flood of modern age by means of this epochal great ark, and to establish a bright Postmodernist age.
Incidentally, today, that is July the fourth, is the day for the United States of America to celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of her Independence. We would like to go a step further, and anticipate and wait for the arrival in a not distant future of the day when we commemorate the creation of the Postmodernist Age in which we are emancipated not only from national sovereignty but also from all bondages internal and external, and in which the freedom and independence of all humankind itself is realized in its real sense.

July 4, 1976
Shin'ichi Hisamatsu

(Originally translated by Dr. Masao Abe in collaboration with Mr. Robert Grous around the date, and now slightly corrected by Gishin Tokiwa, May 1996)


1. The Postmodernist Manifesto was first made public in the FAS Society magazine FAS, No. 69/70, 1971. Before this, Dr. Hisamatsu made public "An A Proposal -- for Changing the Clothes -- by F. Hoseki) ('Hoseki' being Dr. Hisamatsu's Zen name)," as follows:

It has become impossible for the modern-age state-sovereignty with its ethics, politics, and economy to cope with more and more strained new tasks of the actuallities of world history.

The nation-states should radically shift their sovereignty to All humankind for the later to create and establish a Postmodernist system in which sovereignty rests with All humankind -- with Ethics, Politics, Economy of All humankind, by All humankind, for All humankind.

For half a century the modern clothing has been worn out;
Let us change our garments to the Postmodern ones.

October 1970

4 September, 1996
Last updated: 10 July, 1997