Alizia wrote: ↑
Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:01 pm
Dachshund wrote: ↑
Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:05 pm
Postmodernism is a dangerous political ideology, and the way I see it, it has only one prime objective, namely, to destroy Western civilisation. The strategies and tactics it uses to go about doing this are devious, mendacious and treacherous in the extreme. It preys, for example, on the naivety and implicit trust that young people in colleges and universities place in their professors; professors who are not bone fide educators, but political agents who see their principal role as being to indoctrinate their charges with a hateful, nihilistic, violent world-view that implores them to believe that: all of the cultural achievements; all of the fundamental moral and aesthetic values; all of the key institutions and civil mores of their native Western society are rotten and wicked to the core and must therefore be destroyed.
In my own view I notice what appears as an error here. I do not think postmodernism is a political ideology. In fact, it is not an ideology but rather the lack of an ideology. However, my definition of postmodernism (as I offered just above) might not be the official one.
So, what Dachshund is talking about is different. I would suggest that what he is referring to is a result of, let us say, arriving at *the ends of liberalism* if the liberalism referred to is understood as a late-phase decadence. Liberalism, noble as it might have been originally, then contaminated by different currents, not the least being indifference, apathy, confusion of mind, the falling down of strong structures of mind, comes to a point where it becomes weak and non-ideological
. Then, other influences enter in.
Therefore, Dachshund is speaking to a kind of abstraction. I do not mean to imply that I do not agree with elements of what he sees, and I do empathise with the anger. But I suppose that I think we need to better examine causation, so as to have a better idea how to confront the present.
Before I respond to your points (above) I think it might be a good idea if we tried to set down some kind of reasonably accurate definition for the term "Postmodern" (as I am using it). Postmodern, as you know, is a buzzword that can be applied to just about anything: fashion, art, cooking, ways of thinks, etc that dates from the 1980s. As this is a philosophy forum, when I am referring to "Postmodernism", I am referring to the fundamental concepts set down by major Postmodern philosophers. So, who are the major Postmodern philosophers and what do they have to say ?
Jean -Francios Lyotard was a French philosopher who, in 1979, coined the term "Postmodern" with respect to his theory, he, along with two other Frenchmen, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, are widely regarded as three of the most important founding fathers of Postmodern philosophical theory. Their ideas share many common themes with other influential Postmodern theoreticians, individuals like : Jacques Lacan; Giles Deleuze; Felix Guattari; and Richard Rorty among others.
The core ideas of these theorists were subsequently taken up by later Postmodernists in the Western academy who applied them to an increasingly diverse range of disciplines within the humanities, social sciences and anthropology. These ideas include...
(1) An intense sensitivity to language on the level of the word and a feeling that what the speaker means is less important than how it is received, no matter how radical the interpretation.
(2) Shared humanity and individuality are essentially illusions and people are propagators or victims of discourses depending on their social position; a position which is dependent on IDENTITY far more than their individual engagement with society.
(3) Morality is culturally constructed, so too is reality.
(4)Empirical evidence is suspect and so are ANY CULTURALLY DOMINANT IDEAS, including science, reason and universal liberalism.
(5) These are Enlightenment values which are naive, totalising and oppressive and THERE IS A MORAL NECESSITY to smash them.
(6) Contemporary Western societies are all oppressive "phallogocentric" / "Eurocentric" ( i.e. white European, male dominated) patriarchies that are grounded on false Enlightenment values. In addition, Western nations maintain capitalist economies which cruelly exploit and oppress the marginalised and disempowered groups in their societies (e.g. minority racial/ethnic groups, those who identify as LGBTQI, women, immigrants from non-European/non-white majority countries like Mexico, Africa or the Middle East, individuals who follow the Islamic faith, etc.) and are therefore profoundly immoral. For these reasons, Western civilisation MUST be destroyed. ( That includes "Blighty", Belinda !)
(7) Far more important are the lived experience, narratives and beliefs of "marginalised" ( i.e. oppressed, alienated, disempowered, minority) groups, all of which are equally "true" but must now be PRIVILEGED over Western Enlightenment values (and, of course, cisgendered, "bourgeois", heterosexual, white, male capitalist SCUM !) in order to reverse a tyrannical, unjust and entirely arbitrary social construction of reality.
I am sure that any expert scholar in the field of Postmodern philosophy would agree the seven notions I have listed above are valid as common, core ideas that can be found in the work of any major/important 20th century Postmodern theorist.
I think your view that Postmodernism is not a political ideology would be difficult to defend, Belinda. For it seems to me that Postmodern theory clearly embodies a revolutionary political ideology that has much in common with classical Marxist theory. Postmodern theory effectively exhorts its devotees to SMASH THE WESTERN STATUS QUO
. I have a problem with that, chiefly because the fact of the matter is that over the past 1000 years, Western civilization has succeeded in realising the greatest - (i.e. most OBJECTIVELY
superior) - cultural achievements that this world has ever witnessed: the most beautiful, the most ingenious, the most liberating, the most humane, the most intellectually enlightened, the most morally noble, the most powerfully life - affirming culture in all of human history. Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Rorty and co; however, are intent on seeing all of it - every piece of it - mindlessly destroyed. They have no real reason, ultimately, to offer in justifying this destruction, and they are not- (as a matter of principle) - prepared to sit down and talk things over to see if they, and men of good will who disagree with their project, might achieve some kind of reasonable reconciliation. For the Postmodern philosophers/political activists there is nothing to discuss. These people only acknowledge the importance/relevance of one thing, and that is power. Their goal is to weaken the power of the world's Western States by actively undermining their cultural traditions, institutions, moral norms and social mores using a variety of strategies and tactics which simultaneously augment the power of what they regard to be the "marginalised" and oppressed social groups in Western nations. When the balance of power finally shifts in favour of the latter they will ruthlessly and viciously destroy what we call currently refer to as Western society. They will take great pleasure in this because they have long been taught to hate the West for the way it victimised them and their down-trodden forebears; for how it was responsible for making them suffer as second-class human beings.
The truth of the matter is that the founding fathers of Postmodern philosophy were bitter and twisted men. They had all been Marxists - "true believers" of the most puritanical/sanctimonious kind - and when communism failed in the 20th century, their worlds were shattered. They took it all very personally. With every successive triumph of Western capitalism they became more vengeful and angry; more infected with Nietzschian "ressentiment" and its seething, toxic venom. They wanted pay-back. They wanted to hurt the West - to tear it up into shreds in a fit of violent fury. This is the motivation that underpinned all their theorising. They did not give a toss about the oppressed and marginalised social groups in Western society, they merely sought to cynically manipulate them - to radicalise them into a fighting force that would ultimately have the combined power to successfully destroy Western society. To lash out, to smash and destroy in the name of pure poisonous, egocentric revenge, that is what motivated Derrida and Foucault and their Marxist confederates to create Postmodernist theory, nothing more.
I regard any form of leftist politics as dangerous and offensive (morally). With regard to my own politics, I am a traditional social Conservative. More particularly, I would describe myself a "One Nation" Tory in the sense that , for instance, former British Prime Minister John Major was, and before him, Benjamin Disraeli. When "Citizen John" (Major) was in Downing Street, I joined the British Conservative Party for the first time, I was proud to call myself a Conservative, and I even did some "Door knocking" for the Tories in my own constituency (in Hertfordshire) in the run up to the doomed 1997 General Election. Anyway, to continue. As someone who is a Tory I am absolutely convinced that the status quo in Western society should always be deeply respected, revered, and for the most part, maintained. It is inevitable, of course, that from time to time reform will be necessary, but any prospective changes to the existing order must: (1) always be incremental and kept as small as possible; and (2) only ever contemplated after a process of long and rigorously prudent deliberation by senior statesmen of the day. ( In fact, I even sent a series of letters to the BBC years ago -when it was very much a left-wing mouthpiece - vigorously protesting the decision to take "The Basil Brush Show" off the tellie in 1980. I did this because not only was "Basil Brush" clever and "lol" funny, he was also very much a British Institution, - an important and much loved symbol of the status quo in Blighty. I felt Basil Brush (and Mr Roy) ought be kept on the air in order that future generations of young people (and adults !) would be able to enjoy his quintessentially English comic genius. Four years later he was back on the BBC in 1984, so I expect many other Conservatives must have complained !
To continue. ( And, BTW,"I do beg yer puddin' for straying off topic, Miss Belinda - Boom, Boom !!
) When Derrida and his 21st century Postmodern progeny tell us they want to SMASH THE STATUS QUO - when they tell us that they want to destroy so-called "phallogocentric" Western civilization, as a Conservative and an Anglophile I take a very dim view. Let me explain. The desire to smash the status quo, to challenge widely held values and institutions and champion the marginalised is - I am sure you'll agree - absolutely liberal in ethos. Opposing it is resolutely Conservative. This is the historical reality. But, could I point out to you Belinda, that we are at a unique point in history where the status quo is fairly consistently liberal, with a liberalism that upholds and defends the values of freedom, equal rights and opportunities for everyone regardless of gender, race and sexuality. The result is confusion in which many life-long liberals wishing to conserve this kind of liberal status quo will find themselves considered Conservative, and those wishing to avoid Conservatism at all costs will find themselves defending irrationalism and illiberalism.
While the first and second generations of Postmodern theorists/academics (in the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's ) mostly challenged discourse with discourse, what we are seeing now is that activists motivated by their ideas are becoming increasingly authoritarian and following those ideas through to their logical conclusion. This is particularly evident at present in the United States. Freedom of speech is seriously under threat in America because speech is now understood to be dangerous. So dangerous that people who regard themselves as being liberal can now justify responding to it with violence. The need to argue a case persuasively using reasoned argument is at present often replaced with references to identity and pure rage.The dangers of Postmodernism are not, as you suggest, limited to isolated pockets of society which centre around academia and Social Justice. It is a mistake, I think, to imagine that the political activism/influence of the Postmodern -Left today is restricted to the ridiculous antics of pimply, teenage SJWs on American college and University campuses. I agree with you, BTW, that SJWs are just kids - callow, immature, inexperienced, highly impressionable and typically very spoiled little brats, many of whom are merely, as you say, pursuing personal validation and engaging themselves in disingenuous arguments as opposed to acting out of any deep-seated convictions. They are 95% harmless and I must confess that although their behaviour is cringeworthy, I do often find watching video-clips of SJWs protesting/demonstrating quite funny as well. (Sometimes, the way they carry on is so very silly , I can't help but "lol").
In my opinion, Belinda, the ideas of the Postmodern - Left have infiltrated mainstream Western society to a far greater extent than you might imagine. Relativist ideas, epistemological scepticism, hyper-sensitivity to language and a focus on "tribal" identity over humanity or individuality have gained dominance in the wider society. It is currently much easier to say what you FEEL than rigorously examine the evidence. The freedom to "interpret" reality according to one's own values feeds into the very human tendency to confirmation bias and motivated reasoning.
As you are a person on the Left (the liberal Left, that is) my advice to you, Belinda, is that you ought be very afraid of what "your side" has produced in the Postmodern - Left. Take the Democrats in the US, for example, right now they are fragmenting and starting to look increasingly more incoherent, divided and disjointed every day. In order for them to regain credibility, they will need to recover a strong, consistent and reasonable liberalism. They will need to confront, and out-discourse the Postmodern-Left. They will need to meet the inconsistencies, irrationalisms, zealous certitude and tribal authoritarianism of these political imposters and mountebanks; meet their oppositions, divisions and hierarchies with the universal liberal principles of freedom, equality and true (not "social") justice. The Democrats must, as a matter of urgency, adopt a rigid policy of being 100% consistent in using liberal principles to counter all attempts to evaluate or limit people by race, gender or sexuality. In the same vein, when it comes to the big issues of immigration, globalisation and authoritarian , tribal identity politics that are currently empowering the Conservatives, the Democrats must start to understand that calling people "racists", "fascists", "Nazis", "Islamophobes", "homophobes", "white supremacists", "sexists", "privileged white scum" (take note, Greta, because these are the kind of deplorable and despicable terms you frequently use to attack me on this forum - nasty, PoMo-leftist woman that you are
) is a losing strategy. It plays right Donald Trump's hands by making the left appear vulgar, violent and unreasonable, and it will likely encourage many white, middle-class Americans who voted Democrat in 2016 to vote Trump in 2020.
Finally, I think that Western civilisation has entered a phase of decline, just as Oswald Spengler, the German philosopher of history predicted it would in the early 1920's. America is the flagship of modern Western civilisation, and when America goes down, the rest of the West will go with it. It is inevitable that the liberal, democratic republic of America that was officially ratified in 1776 by Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers is doomed.Sadly, the seeds of its destruction were sowed by Democrat President, Lyndon Johnson, in 1965 in the form of insane legislation that opened the floodgates for mass immigration into the US from non-European nations. For the sake of my son and his family I am hoping that the process of American decline can be retarded as much as possible. Trump was a Godsend here, and I am hoping he will serve a second term as President. I think there is a good chance that he will, because The Postmodern-Left, - while I absolutely abhor them -, are, thankfully, doing an excellent job right now in terms of making the Democrats unelectable. Moreover I think the Democrats are just plain stupid to work out what they need to do to become serious contenders in 2020, i.e; purge the Postmodern-Left from their Party.