What is "Postmodernism"?
Paul V. Hartman
"Modernity" is that period -
nearly a century - beginning well before WW2 and ending well after it, in
which science established facts, political theory established the social
state, secularism overcame religious opinion, and the notion of shame was
denied or explained away with various social conventions. It was an era
dominated by the thought of Freud and Marx. Its tendency was toward
the legitimacy of the social welfare state. Sweden represents its
"Post Modern" embraces a period from about
1980 to the present, characterized by the emergence of the postindustrial
information economy, replacing the previous classes of aristocracy, middle
class, and working class with the new paradigm: information elite, middle
class, and underclass. The phrase also implies a nation-state challenged by
new world views: feminism, multiculturalism, environmentalism, etc; old
scientific certainties called into question; the replacement of mechanical
metaphors with cybernetic ones.
Postmodernism rejects the modernist ideals
of rationality, virility, artistic genius, and individualism, in favor
of being anti-capitalist, contemptuous of traditional morality, and
committed to radical egalitarianism. The most recent feature of
PostModernism is the rise of Political Correctness and the attempt to purge
dissenting opinion from the ranks of the academic/artistic/professional
brahmin caste, together with a systematic attack on excellence in all
fields. Post Modernism is an anti-Enlightenment position wherein adherents
believe that what has gone before, as "Modernism", is inappropriately
dependent on Reason, Rationalism, and Wisdom, and is, furthermore,
inherently elitist, non-multicultural and therefore oppressive.
Finding fertile ground in academic
departments of literature (particularly literary criticism), art history,
and sociology - and more recently in history and political "science", its
origin can be traced to the French academy of the 1970's whose proponents
are now called "deconstructionists", the essence of which is that in any
literary creation (any "text"), the actual meaning of the screed is
to be found in the reader, not in the author. That is to say, it is futile
to try and know what an author meant by what is written, but what you
Can know is what you interpret from what you have read and That becomes the true meaning.
A Text, the postmodernist insists, is "ultimately self-contradictory".
(Except, of course, the texts written By postmodernists!)
In the sense that the Enlightenment
encapsulated an acquired series of rational observations into Truths, and
then wove those Truths into a coherent philosophy of the world, general laws
which apply to it, and the consequences of such laws to its inhabitants, the
postmodernists reject the notion that anything can be resolved to be True.
Everything is in the mind of the beholder: relative, forever shifting; and
anything perceived to be a "fact" is the mere disillusionment of a cultural
bias. With such a philosophy, adherents can move beyond the critique of
books to the critique of anything, even science, about which they
tend to be supremely ignorant. But in the land of the blind, the one-eyed
man is King, and in postmodernism, the man in best possession of
obscurantist jargonism is Professor and Chairman of the Department.
Postmodernism is the unifying philosophy of
the academic left which has replaced discredited Marxism. It might also be
claimed that Marxism has morphed into postmodernism. Like all academic
foolishness, it has an argot of jargon, tropes and incoherent phraseology
recapitulated continuously by the cognoscenti. It distills, ultimately, to
mere posturing as a substitute for intellectual fervor. Although
nothing, according to the postmodernist, can be determined to be "true",
postmodernism itself is, of course, True.
Paying homage at the postmodernist altar are all sorts of new
academic disciplines, chief of which are "women's studies", "black
studies", and "interdisciplinary studies", and an assortment of nutty
crusades such as campus Political Correctness and even environmental
wackiness: look at "global warming" for example - the greatest Hoax in human history.
Nothing is True, and the Believer worships at that altar. These are the truly disenchanted: coagulated in the academy after having been rejected in the real world, they continue their search for a nihilistic nirvana.
Would You like to be a "postmodern
intellectual"? Click Here .
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