What Comes After Post-Modernism? Post Post-Modernism?

In an earlier post, we introduced the concept of post-modernism. I have been thinking about the relationship  between this concept, one called “deconstructionism”, the political and economic belief of “progressivism” and why we seem to have leadership that is incapable of the simplest logic and refuse to acknowledge facts that are obvious to we simple minded folk who don’t practice any of the three aforementioned “intellectual” pursuits.

My line of thought was triggered by a spate of articles from the various news outlets over the past year or so about the so called anthropogenic global climate “change” , the “green” energy efforts arising from them and the irrational arguments made in favor of each.

Post-modernism is defined as:

A general and wide-ranging term which is applied to literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism, among others. Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. In essence, it stems from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality. For this reason, postmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than certain and universal.

Postmodernism is “post” because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody – a characteristic of the so-called “modern” mind. The paradox of the postmodern position is that, in placing all principles under the scrutiny of its skepticism, it must realize that even its own principles are not beyond questioning. As the philosopher Richard Tarnas states, postmodernism “cannot on its own principles ultimately justify itself any more than can the various metaphysical overviews against which the postmodern mind has defined itself.”

For definitional purposes, “deconstructionism” is:

A term tied very closely to postmodernism, deconstructionism is a challenge to the attempt to establish any ultimate or secure meaning in a text. Basing itself in language analysis, it seeks to “deconstruct” the ideological biases (gender, racial, economic, political, cultural) and traditional assumptions that infect all histories, as well as philosophical and religious “truths.” Deconstructionism is based on the premise that much of human history, in trying to understand, and then define, reality has led to various forms of domination – of nature, of people of color, of the poor, of homosexuals, etc. Like postmodernism, deconstructionism finds concrete experience more valid than abstract ideas and, therefore, refutes any attempts to produce a history, or a truth. In other words, the multiplicities and contingencies of human experience necessarily bring knowledge down to the local and specific level, and challenge the tendency to centralize power through the claims of an ultimate truth which must be accepted or obeyed by all.

So both of these “philosophies” are based on the following:

  • There is no universal or objective “truth”.
  • History has no value in attempting to define “truth”.
  • “Reality” can only be understood in the terms of the beholder – since “truth” cannot be objectively understood, it can only be experienced by the beholder and is therefore relative to that particular person’s point of view at that specific point in time and under those exact circumstances.

I have never heard of a more idiotic attempt to explain reality than this bunch of pseudo-intellectual crap. As I read this, I get the image of a 32 year old Timothy Leary wanna-be career student, writing his doctoral thesis after inhaling a bowl or two to mellow out the harshness of the mind expanding LSD he just dropped – but it does explain a lot, like:

  • Why “progressives” think that the Constitution doesn’t mean what it says (it is a “living document”, remember?).
  • Why “progressives” pass laws that they selectively enforce and/or obey (drug laws, immigration).
  • How “progressives” can hear radical Islamists make statements like “Death to Israel! Death to America!” and not take them at their word (remember, there is no objective “truth”).
  • How “progressives” can hear radical Islamists make statements like “the Islamic Republic of Iran doesn’t want a nuclear bomb, we only seek peaceful energy production” and not hear the lie (again remember, there is no objective “truth”).
  • Why “progressives” like Obama continue to suggest that his Marxist economic policies are successes in the face of objective data otherwise.
  • How a “progressive” can believe that a “job saved or created” is a measurable metric.
  • Why a “progressive” president can kill a pipeline project that would provide real jobs and access to cheaper energy in a time when we need both and say with a straight face that the unemployment insurance and regulatory processes will create more jobs than a new construction and energy project.
  • Why “progressives” believe that man causes global “climate change” when the climate is not explained by the very models that are cited as proof and that weather can’t be used as proof of climate but weather events like hurricanes (after some of the quietest hurricane seasons on record) are proof.
  • Why “progressives” believe that “green” projects like solar, ethanol, wind and wave are successful when companies are going bankrupt left and right as the federal funding runs out.
  • Why “progressives” believe that intent to do something is equal to actually achieving something and good intentions count as much as actual results.
  • Why “progressives” style themselves and their leaders as philosopher-kings and why a common retort is “I can’t explain it to you because you just wouldn’t understand” (which is code for “I don’t have a clue but I don’t want you to know that and I’ll never admit my ignorance so I’ll just keep talking.”)

“Progressives” owe their very existence to Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx and the Communist Manifesto.  Marx and Engels also shared an aversion for history, writing:

In bourgeois society, therefore, the past dominates the present; in Communist society, the present dominates the past.

So if one critically examines the past, the basis for communism – the antagonism between labor and capital – would be proven to be a fallacy by every individual who ever rose from poverty to wealth – people like Andrew Carnegie who came to America penniless and became one of the richest men of his era were living proof that Marx was wrong…so like the post-modernists and the deconstructionists, Karl and Friedrich just dispensed with the nasty business of history disagreeing with them.

“Progressivism” is as illegitimate as the beliefs that it is founded on and rests upon today.

I am stunned at the brashness of these so called “progressives” who engage in this absolute and total lunacy. At any other period in American history these people would have been laughingstocks and ridden out of town on a rail.

Why in the Hell are these people even given the time of day?

I just want to slap the crap out of them and tell them to wake the Hell up. Life is real. Life has consequences and those consequences don’t believe in post-modernistic/deconstructionistic twaddle. There are real people being hurt by these dime store philosophies and poseur philosopher-kings.

I forgot which site I read this on, I was in and out of airports and hotels over the past few days and I apologize in advance to the source for not citing it – but I read some of the most astonishing examples of this foolishness as a result. It is an article written by Chip Morningstar called, “How to Deconstruct Almost Anything – My Post-Modern Adventure”. Morningstar is no dummy, his Wikipedia bio notes that:

Chip Morningstar is an author, developer, programmer and designer of software systems, mainly for online entertainment and communication. He graduated from University of Michigan in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering. While at the University of Michigan he also performed research in the Space Physics Research Laboratory, where he wrote device drivers and CAD software for electronic circuitry.[1] Morningstar held many jobs throughout his career in the research and development of technology and programs. Most notably was Morningstar’s role as project leader for Lucasfilm‘s Habitat, the first large-scale virtual multiuser environment. In March 2001, Morningstar and colleague Randy Farmer were awarded the “First Penguin Award” by the International Game Developers Association for their work on Habitat. He also participated in Project Xanadu, for which the word hypertext was first coined. Additionally, he is credited with coining the term avatar for an on-screen representation and pre-Internet work in online information marketplaces.

Mr Morningstar writes:

Randy and I were scheduled to speak on the second day of the conference. This was fortunate because it gave us the opportunity to recalibrate our presentation based on the first day’s proceedings, during which we discovered that we had grossly mischaracterized the audience by assuming that it would be like the crowd from the first conference. I spent most of that first day furiously scribbling notes. People kept saying the most remarkable things using the most remarkable language, which I found I needed to put down in writing because the words would disappear from my brain within seconds if I didn’t. Are you familiar with the experience of having memories of your dreams fade within a few minutes of waking? It was like that, and I think for much the same reason. Dreams have a logic and structure all their own, falling apart into unmemorable pieces that make no sense when subjected to the scrutiny of the conscious mind. So it was with many of the academics who got up to speak. The things they said were largely incomprehensible. There was much talk about deconstruction and signifiers and arguments about whether cyberspace was or was not “narrative”. There was much quotation from Baudrillard, Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Saussure, and the like, every single word of which was impenetrable. I’d never before had the experience of being quite this baffled by things other people were saying. I’ve attended lectures on quantum physics, group theory, cardiology, and contract law, all fields about which I know nothing and all of which have their own specialized jargon and notational conventions. None of those lectures were as opaque as anything these academics said. But I captured on my notepad an astonishing collection of phrases and a sense of the overall tone of the event.

We retreated back to Palo Alto that evening for a quick rewrite. The first order of business was to excise various little bits of phraseology that we now realized were likely to be perceived as Politically Incorrect. Mind you, the fundamental thesis of our presentation was Politically Incorrect, but we wanted people to get upset about the actual content rather than the form in which it was presented. Then we set about attempting to add something that would be an adequate response to the postmodern lit crit-speak we had been inundated with that day. Since we had no idea what any of it meant (or even if it actually meant anything at all), I simply cut-and-pasted from my notes. The next day I stood up in front of the room and opened our presentation with the following:

The essential paradigm of cyberspace is creating partially situated identities out of actual or potential social reality in terms of canonical forms of human contact, thus renormalizing the phenomenology of narrative space and requiring the naturalization of the intersubjective cognitive strategy, and thereby resolving the dialectics of metaphorical thoughts, each problematic to the other, collectively redefining and reifying the paradigm of the parable of the model of the metaphor.

This bit of nonsense was constructed entirely out of things people had actually said the day before, except for the last ten words or so which are a pastiche of Danny Kaye’s “flagon with the dragon” bit from The Court Jester, contributed by our co-worker Gayle Pergamit, who took great glee in the entire enterprise. Observing the audience reaction was instructive. At first, various people started nodding their heads in nods of profound understanding, though you could see that their brain cells were beginning to strain a little. Then some of the techies in the back of the room began to giggle. By the time I finished, unable to get through the last line with a straight face, the entire room was on the floor in hysterics, as by then even the most obtuse English professor had caught on to the joke. With the postmodernist lit crit shit thus defused, we went on with our actual presentation…

Engineering and the sciences have, to a greater degree, been spared this isolation and genetic drift because of crass commercial necessity. The constraints of the physical world and the actual needs and wants of the actual population have provided a grounding that is difficult to dodge. However, in academia the pressures for isolation are enormous. It is clear to me that the humanities are not going to emerge from the jungle on their own. I think that the task of outreach is left to those of us who retain some connection, however tenuous, to what we laughingly call reality. We have to go into the jungle after them and rescue what we can. Just remember to hang on to your sense of humor and don’t let them intimidate you.

It is an amusing read.

Even the biggest fool knows that there are objective truths. Something either exists or it doesn’t. Any federally funded program or job is a redistribution of taxpayer dollars because the government has no money of its own. When real value is created, society is willing to pay for it. Work has an objective and tangible output that is worth something to society.

The reason that we aren’t making progress in any sort of economic recovery, are making very little progress on race relations or regaining respect in the world is because of this idiocy. Can you imagine Putin or the Chi-Coms worrying over what the “definition of “is” is”? Most of our political class and a significant percentage of the “progressive” wings of both major parties no longer live in the real world.

I understand the usefulness of philosophical debate as a part of intellectual inquiry but in a practical sense, it is useless and idiotic to endlessly debate whether Schrödinger’s cat is alive or dead  under the box when all you have to do is lift the box to find out. If you have the power to intellectually discover the “is or ain’t” of a situation, why waste time with hypothetical propositions?

It is equally useless to argue that the status of the cat, once determined, is the opposite to what is observed because it depends on our current perception of reality.

The damn cat is either alive or dead. Period. Stick that in your existentialist philosophy pipe and smoke it.

Post-modernists, deconstructionists and “progressives” are the creation of a successful and productive society. They exist as a luxury appendage to a society that produces more than it consumes, thereby providing the time and money for these “intellectuals” to tear down the very mechanism that allows them to exist. This type of reductive and destructive reasoning is totally worthless to society. It helps no one in understanding anything and serves only as a convenient excuse for the harsh reality of the world and the interactions of its inhabitants.

Post-modernism, deconstructionism and “progressivism” are all the result of individuals seeking to explain their lack of success, societal mobility and meaningful achievement in the face of the objective success of productive members of society and individual self-determination. They are incapable of coming to terms with their own limitations; therefore they must construct an alternative explanation for their lack of tangible value to society through a system of pseudo-logic. The issue with this is that it has absolutely no basis in reality – similar to the theory of Marx and Engels that capital and labor have existed in an eternally antagonistic relationship.

These are the same “intellectuals” that can argue for days whether the color black is objectively racist depending on an individual’s perception of it at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning but can’t place the simple and clear ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in context. There is no lack of clarity in this, no question that the Founders believed in objective and universal truths:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

My grandfather would call these post-modern/deconstructive/”progressive” “philosophical” efforts “useless bullshit”.

Why are we putting up with it now?

Linked to two folks I like: Smitty at The Other McCain and Walter Russell Mead.

Caution: Another Smitty link attached.

8 thoughts on “What Comes After Post-Modernism? Post Post-Modernism?

  1. My grandfather would call these “philosophical” efforts “useless bullshit”.

    This nation was founded on philosophical argument. Math, language, even logic is based on philosophy. In fact, the word means love of and pursuit of wisdom (sometimes translated as knowledge). But, somehow, I don’t think your grandfather was meaning to condemn ALL philosophical work.

    Another very good piece, Utah. Thanks for the effort, I’ll be re-reading this one a couple times, myself. Just one thing:

    NEVER underestimate the power of that line you wrote:

    “Something either is or it isn’t.”

    EVERYTHING in the universe is built upon that one preposition – EVERYTHING!


  2. I’m glad I waited til this morning to read this….. my 32% is swimming….really dug the bit by Morningstar, thanks. Oh, and you, of course! Your last question is the million dollar question. Is it because of the media feeding the people?

    I’m very tickled now as your grandpa sounds like my grandma… 😆

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