Whether one calls it postmodernism or nihilism or some other related abstraction, these forms of philosophy are destroying Western culture and the modern world along with it.
Postmodernism’s premise is contradictory at is root. It argues that that no definite terms, boundaries, or absolute truths exist, something that creates an immediate paradox because defining what postmodernism represents would violate its very basis. The best description I can give for postmodernism is that it is temporal, completely situational, temporary and based on feelings rather than fact. I wanted to use the word “relativistic” – but to be relative, one thing must be compared to another and that would require the acceptance that the other thing has definite terms, boundaries or truths – again, completely contrary to the basis of the philosophy.
The problem for postmodernists lies in the fact that there are definite terms, boundaries, or absolute truths in the real world. At thing either is or is not, so for the postmodernist to remain faithful to postmodernism, he must find a way to deal with those contradictions. They way he does is typically through redefinition (paraphrasing SCOTUS Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography – “I don’t know what it is, but I’ll know it when I see it) or simple denial (much like a child closing his eyes and covering his ears when faced with fear – hoping against hope a feared specter will pass him by).
Keeping common cause with such a philosophy results in constant mental anguish. If you have ever run low on your computer’s RAM so that it had to continually read and write data on your hard drive, you know how it slows your computer down. A while back, after yet another update from Microsoft, I had a couple of software switches changed, causing a conflict at the operating system level, My laptop’s terabyte sized hard drive was running constantly at 100% – needless to say, the laptop acted as if it was dipped in molasses and I could feel the heat from the hard drive through the plastic shell. It took finding the offending conflict and resolving it to end the issue (again, that situation was pure logic – the software switches were either in conflict or they weren’t).
That’s a brain on postmodernism.
Postmodernism leads to frustration and frustration leads to nihilism. Nihilism is defined as “the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy.”
One can see how well nihilism dovetails with postmodernism – and one can certainly see how the combination of both, the frustration and illogic of postmodernism and the fatalism of nihilism, can lead to destruction of a culture and eventually, a civilization.
So, without respect to politics (neither of these are exclusive to a political party) these are the problems.
The $64,000 question is what can we do about them?
Well, postmodernism and nihilism can only survive if they can avoid consequences. If their acolytes are shielded from the hard reality of their choices, even temporarily so, these philosophies will continue to corrode everything they touch.
Examples of how politicians and our elected officials delve in the postmodernist arts are legion. Political acts of “kicking the can down the road” on hard decisions and measuring the impacts of a program (cuts or increases) or a budget (deficits or surpluses) at a point 10 years into the future are examples of consequence avoidance.
Tough love is the answer.
William F. Buckley got it right with his “standing athwart history yelling “Stop!’, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it” definition of conservativism.
It’s almost like those “scared straight” programs when hardened criminals are brought in to scare the crap out of budding thugs by destroying the fantasy and connecting them with the hard reality of incarceration. The best thing Americans could ever do is to give our politicians a dose of scared straight. People will continue to believe in progressive Utopian fairy tales as long as they can avoid the consequences of their actions, their politics and their ideologies.
That is why, at least on a philosophical level, I like Trump’s “you want ‘em, you got ‘em” Illegal alien rhetoric. What makes it even more delicious is that it is right out of the Saul Alinsky “Rules for Radicals” playbook – Rule 4 states: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules – if the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules.”
It is fun to finally watch Democrats babble incoherently as Alinsky’s “Eye of Sauron” is turned on them (a gratuitous “Lord of the Rings” reference).
I’ve long thought the absurdist philosophy makes some sense in these times. In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to mankind’s constant search for inherent value and meaning in life contrasted against his apparent inability to find any in a purposeless, meaningless or chaotic and irrational universe. French philosopher Albert Camus was a prominent absurdist philosopher – Camus argued that individuals should embrace the suck of the absurd condition of human existence while also defiantly continuing to explore and search for meaning.
In the end and against the cresting wave of nihilistic postmodernism, I stand with Camus and Buckley.