Postmodern Conservatism(s)

clipped from www.townhall.com

By uniting the nations’ top conservative radio hosts with their millions of listeners, Townhall.com breaks down the barriers between news and opinion, journalism and political participation — and enables conservatives to participate in the political process with unprecedented ease.

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Published in: on March 31, 2007 at 7:40 pm  Comments (23)  

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  1. Mission statements are a dime a dozen. I really don’t see this as anything but what conservative media over the last 75 years has done, which is master the media and respond to audience’s needs. Conservative media has done this far, far better than progressive media, I might add.

    Plus, “postmodern conservative” would mean something, maybe, if “postmodern” actually meant anything, which it doesn’t. It is a red herring concept. Meant to confuse, mean anything convenient, and be an intellectual placeholder, of arguments that never, it seems, come.

    md

  2. One other thing occurred to me this morning. You haven’t clipped anything ideological, but rather you have clipped a part of a business model. In other words, your use of “postmodern” doesn’t refer to any actual ideas, opinions, views, or arguments. Rather, you refer to the delivery mechanism — namely, this website, and its related web-driven offerings (videos, podcasts, mp3s, etc.) So this constitutes another reason why your use of “postmodern” here is nonsensical.

  3. First off, I didn’t say it was ideological. I get the sense you think my posting that was critical. It wasn’t. I just found it interesting and was commenting on it.

    I’m not disagreeing that the conservative media has done a better job than the liberal one. Especially of course in radio.

    The postmodern element was the reference to breaking down the barrier between journalism and political participation.

    That strikes me as a part and parcel of the postmodern turn away from supposed neutral objectivity to partisan identity politics. For good and for ill I would say.

    The mission statement has a much more explicit awareness of how facts are shaped to interpretation and political action/strategy. It’s honest at least.

    Information will be seen through that lens–which stories get play, which don’t. Which pieces of information, which other perspectives are diminished or even perhaps left out completely.

    My disagreement of course is I can’t accept–as the primary and only–form of political vision a conservative one. Just as I can’t with contemporary liberalism either.

    Again I’m not saying liberal sites don’t do this–that is precisely the point. I see more as a postmodern tendency that is equally tapped into by both conservative and liberal political-value streams.

    So no I don’t think postmodern is meaningless in this context.

    Peace.

  4. Chris,

    I didn’t take you as critical whatsoever. Let’s be clear on that. I also know you never claimed anything ideological. That’s brutally clear since you didn’t write anything but a blog title. 🙂

    I pointed the latter out, however, to bring clarity to what you, even in the two-word title, were directly implying. Which is that it doesn’t matter what the content is on Townhall.com. The simple fact that it is online and responsive to readers makes it postmodern.

    That’s where I object. Because, as I say above, “postmodern” is a word that doesn’t mean anything. (Although people love to pretend otherwise.) And especially here, you are using it in an unusually strange way, though still in a meaningless way, since the word itself is meaningless.

    Let me take your own statements that seem to define the term:

    The postmodern element was the reference to breaking down the barrier between journalism and political participation.

    So, “conservatism on the web” is thus postmodern, by the mere virtue of being delivered in pixels, instead of print? Is this your contention, that it is a strictly technological tag?

    That strikes me as a part and parcel of the postmodern turn away from supposed neutral objectivity to partisan identity politics.

    Of course Townhall is partisan; that goes with the territory. But, um, where, on Townhall.com, do you get “identity politics”? You would have to contort the meaning of “identity politics” beyond recognition to make this argument.

    And where or when was conservatism (or progressivism, for that matter) a reflection of “supposed neutral objectivity”? And don’t you have to address the ideological content of Townhall.com in order to argue your point? And since you aren’t, then, this strikes me as way off.

    Finally, to your last attempt to define how “postmodern” makes any sense here:

    The mission statement has a much more explicit awareness of how facts are shaped to interpretation and political action/strategy.

    How, exactly?

  5. MD,

    Great pics of the bambinos btw.

    I take “breaking down the barriers between news and opinion, journalism and political participation” to be a postmodern statement.

    Because when I hear that statement I’m also hearing “traditional” journalism implied. You will disagree with that I’m sure.

    But I do see that comment about breaking down the barriers as a realization of a tendency within many forms of postmodernism: the de-centration of the “neutral” observer.

    In other words there isn’t news/journalism=facts on one side versus opinion/activism=interpretation on the other.

    To me the separation of facts as separate from communities, activity, and identity is a major flaw of modernist thought.

    In journalism terms that was an assumption that the journalist was a non-political observer who discovered “the truth” once and for all and delivered cleanly to the people.

    With news/media organizations we’ve seen that this is not the case. This has been the charge (correctly) of right-wing individuals that lots of elements of the MSM are not neutral observers.

    As a result now we have a divided blogsphere, divided cable news channels (conservatives watch FoxNews, liberals CNN), etc.

    But your right in the sense that in this post I’m using postmodern more in the sense of a platform, common forms of operation and that these patterns cut across conservative and liberal streams.

    While I’m certainly not emphasizing the content of the site for the purposes of this post–other than their own words–I’m not totally bracketing it out either. I’m exploring what I think is behind the words “breaking down the barriers”.

    So by those patterns I mean something more than just it is online and people can respond.

    I’m assuming that they are in fact following their own mission statement, which your first comment suggested is not necessarily the case. Fair point.

    By identity politics I meant the site specifically states it is “the first conservative web community.” That’s a political identity. Given what I’m calling the postmodern context, there is a move towards staying with your tribe.

    Right-wing blogs link to right-wing blogs or only to left-wing to show how stupid they are and vice versa.

    It’s balkanizing. Again not that this tendency has not existed before the internet, but it has certainly given a platform and reach to this not previously available.

    Pre-postmodern conservatives and liberals did not exhibit this segregation I’m arguing. Think the Eisenhower, Dewey, Rockefeller Republicans. As Schwarzenneger said they used to actually eat dinner with Democratic Liberals. That does not go on anymore.

    It’s a re-tribalizing tendency that I’m pointing to and calling postmodern.

  6. The only other point I’ll add. Hewitt refers (I think correctly) to the MSM as “dinosaurs.” That is, they are going extinct.

    I take that to be a postmodern statement–the dinosaurs and MSM representing a modern wave of journalism.

  7. It seems you really haven’t come to grips with a) how entrenched this word appears to be in your thinking (in other words, how attached you are to it), and b) how much you want it to mean something, when regular word do the trick just fine, sans the “postmodern” tag.

    1) technologically, where postmodernism is simply “what the web offers”

    2) sociologically, where postmodernism simply means “people hanging out in (possibly) different ways”

    3) politically, where postmodernism, simply means “people read what they agree with”

    4) linguistically, where postmodernism simply means “we acknowledge bias”

    5) journalistically, where postmodernism simply means “journalists acknowledge the needs of their audience”

    The point in all this is how absurd it is for one word to mean so many different things, which already have regular words to describe their phenomena.

    The logical fallacy is one of coming to a conclusion, then finding facts to support that conclusion. In the process, you imply that smart journalists, smart news organizations, and smart people in general haven’t always known that success in the social sphere’s contest of ideas means mastering the media and responding to audience’s needs.

    People who think this is a “postmodern insight” demonstrate immaturity.

    I think this is a bogus, naive, unearned, and even patronizing tact to take, but one you are compelled to if you believe that “postmodernism” means anything.

    For it is is the notion of “progress”, that whatever is “postmodern” has evolved beyond what came before it. How that happens is never explained, but rather just assumed for the purposes of epistemological taxonomy.

    The only kind of progress that anyone can point to with any kind of certainty (and not mere conjecture) is technological evolution.

    Which, for the purposes of this discussion, means you must talk about how media works. Which I don’t think you are in any way that, for example, incorporates a “media studies” perspective, such as McLuhan.

    Until that sort of argument comes from you, I’ll say this:

    Adding bells and whistles does not evolution make.

    md

  8. Oh, and thanks. It’s a trip. 🙂

    md

  9. I’m well aware of how attached I am to the term. Because I do think there is a legitimate movement called postmodernism.

    I don’t think it’s a cipher, as you suggest, for intellectual laziness and a catch-all word that means everything by meaning nothing.

    It can be that way and is for some.

    I also find this slightly amusing given that I am actually highly critical of postmodernism. I do think there is such a thing and it is here to say. But I consider my own writings and my own philosophical position if we are using labels as post-postmodern.

    You wrote:

    For it is is the notion of “progress”, that whatever is “postmodern” has evolved beyond what came before it. How that happens is never explained, but rather just assumed for the purposes of epistemological taxonomy.

    Right after you referred to my own thinking as naive and bogus. However if you have thought an iota about what I’ve ever written on the subject, you would not make ignorant claims about evolving. You seem to like hyperbole and snarky language, so there you go.

    I didn’t say all postmodernism was progress. Some of it is regress. Some of it is new possibilities so new things can go wrong. Some of it is just plain stupid whether it has evolved or not.

    That in my writing how “this happens” is not spelled out entirely is because I believe there is an element of mystery to life and that there are emergent qualities that just appear.

    Like one day there were rocks and chemicals and the next life. How did that happen? I have no clue but given the facts as we currently have them now, I go back to make a decision that I think yes in fact that happened. And I admit that I how I/we understand the meaning of that presupposed event now is not the fullness of what future people will likely discover in it.

    That process is not as arbitrary as deciding beforehand what is right and then making everything mean what I take it to mean. Get real dude.

    I think the following outline is usually what happens for most thinkers (it’s certainly true in my case).

    1.Induction phase. Look around at as much evidence from as many sides as I can.

    2.Abduction. Make a leap about how this works, how this all fits together, what it all means.

    3.Deduction. Based on my abduction, certain deductions flow about the world. They logically follow if #2 is the case.

    4.Test those deductions and check the evidence. Another phase of induction going in circles forever.

    The real trick is to be as honest as we can about our #2s and not letting them totally filter our ability to read whether 4 supports/denies 3.

    That is CS Peirce talking btw. Not some European post-structuralist deconstruction type.

    In other words, at least what this comment thread gets to is a (the?) main difference between us.

    You wrote:

    The only kind of progress that anyone can point to with any kind of certainty (and not mere conjecture) is technological evolution.

    Progress is your word not mine. I would prefer change–some of it I would label progress some of it not. That aside, I don’t agree with that statement. I think there is more than technology going on in terms of change. You believe human nature remains constant.

    Those are our abductions. Those choices are made for deeply existential, emotional, political, economic, and just plain old personality differences. They are not amenable to change by arguments that go like:

    postmodernism isn’t real
    yes it is.
    no it’s not.

    I think there is enough discontinuity to merit another term like postmodern. You don’t. Fine.

    What I don’t think is cool is then going off on rants and smearing people’s character.

  10. And any discussion of discontinuity is only of degrees. Hence I am not saying nor implying that earlier folks were not aware of any of these trends.

    say in media, as you point out, needing to know the audience.

    that is, as you correctly point, a ludicrous notion.

    what I am saying is there is a different intensity, a different degree of that trend bubbling up.

    I think that degree is strong enough that it is helpful to have a term that emphasizes a break.

    a better discussion, because then it might actually be that as opposed to I said/you said flaming, would be how continuous and/or discontinuous?

  11. Uh oh. I am afraid I didn’t clarify the difference in my last long comment of my usage of you (as you you, CJ), and you (as in, an impersonal you). Thus when, for example, I wrote:

    People who think this is a “postmodern insight” demonstrate immaturity.

    I think this is a bogus, naive, unearned, and even patronizing tact to take, but one you are compelled to if you believe that “postmodernism” means anything.

    … “you” is impersonal you, not you, CJ.

    I hope this clear things up. A flame war is not what I’m intending, but rather a rigorous back and forth, with plenty of good faith and sportsmanship, for want of a better term.

    So, back to the discussion…

  12. Before I continue, let me also respond to this:

    postmodernism isn’t real
    yes it is.
    no it’s not.

    That is a flat-out mischaracterization of what I written on this comment thread.

    I have presented arguments.

    I have presented reasons.

    I have addressed what you’ve written, and responded with both of the above.

    To say otherwise ignores what I’ve written, here.

    Please note that I’ve reduced your arguments in no such equivalent way, whatsoever.

    md

  13. Chris,

    Attempting to cull together sentences towards what you say you mean by “postmodernism”.

    It is a movement.

    It is not necessarily about progress, though it may include progress beyond what came before it.

    It is further gone beyond in whatever you mean by post-postmodernism, which, like postmodernism, I assume may or may not include progress.

    It has nothing fundamental to do, in the case of a conservative political website, with anything on that site, article wise. But rather has to do with the virtue of the mere site itself and its stated intentions to “break down barriers”.

    It is a trend, based upon degrees of intensity of what you call “discontinuity”. Which makes for what you call a break. A break, I assume, from “the past”.

    It manifests politically, journalistically, sociologically, linguisticly, technologically.

    Huh.

    I reiterate my argument that you are requiring of a single concept far more than a single concept can realistically mean.

    I have yet to see an argument from you to counter that.

    And let me also state a complaint, that, as you have done in the past, you rather mangled something I wrote.

    I wrote:


    The only kind of progress that anyone can point to with any kind of certainty (and not mere conjecture) is technological evolution.

    and you took that to mean, “You believe human nature remains constant.”

    Whether that is my belief is beside the point I made. Which was the only manner of progress we can point to with certainty is technological. Is that not an accurate statement? And is that not quite different than your immediate interpretation of it?

    md

  14. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/postmodernism

    This is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    The author of this piece looks to Lyotard. I’m not much connected to Lyotard, but also mentions an Italian strain (which is more where I stand).

    Then mentions Habermas’ criticisms of postmodernity, which I think are bang on.

    As I’ve said before of “orthodox” philosophers I’m Habermasian.

    The article begins:

    That postmodernism is indefinable is a truism. However, it can be described as a set of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices employing concepts such as difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning.

    As a basic beginning response, I agree with that.

  15. So, now, you say that postmodernism is a practice, that employs concepts.

    While I usually don’t make a habit of disputing dictionaries, let me dispute this one’s entry.

    Saying postmodernism is a practice (unless practice is redefined) is incongruous with what practice can be taken to mean in normal parlance, which is something behavioral, whatever how however that may be. Which means you can point to something or someone and say, “look that something or someone is being postmodern!”

    Can you really do that?

    You can’t.

    Thus postmodernism is not a practice. It is a concept, period. It is an idea. And it is an idea that, as the dictionary points out, begets other concepts and ideas, anchored in it.

    But lookie here. The entry says it is undefinable. Didn’t I say this at the beginning of this thread?

    For me, that is reason 50,032,485,736 why it is a good idea to look for truth in a way that doesn’t in any way use the device of “postmodernism”. In other words, this is a deal-breaker for me, its undefinability.

    Why is it not for you?

  16. Of course postmodernism as such is indefinable, no such thing exists. There are only postmodernisms as the article also correctly states.

    And even that word (postmodernisms) is only a heuristic–a helpful (most of the time) abbreviation. It doesn’t substitute for what is being said, but it does help frame it.

    The genealogy strain of postmodernism–starting esp. with Nietzsche–does not want abstract definitions applicable for all times and all places in an essentialist fashion.

    Which postmodernism do you mean? Genealogy, post-structuralism, deconstructionism, ethnic studies, the concept of the other, de-centralized economics, micro-sociology, reader-response theories?

    Either there is a thread that is broad enough to encompass those varying disciplines–in which case the term postmodernism works. Or there isn’t, in which case you can’t write off the whole term as meaningless and are going to have to go through and show how each and every one of those has not discovered anything of value.

    Your wanting to have it both ways here.

    And yes different types of postmodern thinking do in fact involve practices. Reading a text in order to deconstruct it is a practice. There are methods that one follows. There is a repeatable pattern that can be taught and someone who knows how to do it knows when someone else is or isn’t doing it properly.

    You yourself practice a sort of faux deconstruction when you say take an entire article with a long history of thinkers, movements, critcisms, counter-claims and reduce it to one piece you disagree with (say practices) and then show the entire idea/argument fails because of that piece.

    Thereby you keep the responder (i.e. me) on defense simultaneously allowing you to jump over an entire mountain of human data and thought with a magical few clicks of the keyboard.

    This is like arguing with someone about whether air exists.

    It’s one thing to argue that all of postmodernism(s) was a wrong turn. That’s a fair argument.

    It’s quite another, seems to me, to be arguing the concept itself is bereft of meaning–even in at least accurately describing the contours of wrong turns.

    Again I do find this ludicrous in the sense that I am not a postmodernist. I think there are certain insights/perspectives raised in postmodernism that are valuable but the overall system fails.

    You having an argument with someone else(s) through me.

    Ok, here’s my proof, if you will.

    Read Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Hume.

    Then read Heidegger, Derrida, Foucault.

    Even if you think the later are completely wrong, bad scholars, not reading the texts, whatever. But tell me there isn’t a different feel to their work. That they aren’t going in directions through means that the earlier ones did not. That their works don’t live, breathe, feel, and argue for a different way.

    That’s it by postmodernism friend.

  17. Chris,

    Firstly, I’m a person not a blog. I have never signed anything I write to you as “The Daily Goose”.

    Secondly, you ask, which postmodernism do I mean?

    I mean the one you are using when you referred to “postmodern conservatism(s)”. Sheesh!

    Let me add to the list that, for you, “postmodernism” means:

    Genealogy, post-structuralism, deconstructionism, ethnic studies, the concept of the other, de-centralized economics, micro-sociology, reader-response theories.

    So “postmodernism” means all these things, in addition to the list began earlier in this thread.

    AND it is a word undefinable.

    Wow. All those and undefinable. The perfect “means everything” and “mean nothing”, in short order.

    And you don’t have a problem with all this? Alarms don’t go off, signaling semantic violations? Eyebrows aren’t raised, recognizing intellectual slapdashery? Noses don’t recoil, with something rotten in the state of Denmark?

    I ask again, why not? Why use a term with such impossible to lift baggage?

    Moving on, you commit a logical fallacy here:

    Or there isn’t, in which case you can’t write off the whole term as meaningless and are going to have to go through and show how each and every one of those has not discovered anything of value.

    I’m sorry, but “postmodernism”‘s meaninglessness does not require me to “go through” each item of the laundry list you provide. Those may or may not be valid lines of thought, and “postmodernism” can still be a meaningless term. Oh, I mean a term that means, well, everything above. Or it is undefinable. I’m losing track.

    I absolutely do not want anything “both ways”. I want you to realize that a term cannot simultaneously be and mean all the things you want it to mean, as indicated in this thread alone. Nor should it, because it become a shorthand to violates intellectual integrity that compels one to, instead of saying something is “postmodern”, actually demonstrate coherently to a general audience what the hell that is supposed to mean.

    You write:

    Reading a text in order to deconstruct it is a practice. There are methods that one follows. There is a repeatable pattern that can be taught and someone who knows how to do it knows when someone else is or isn’t doing it properly.

    Reading a text in order to deconstruct it is, actually, merely reading a text in order to deconstruct it. It is not necessarily “postmodernism” (any more than it is “modernism” or “premodernism”) that magically undefinable term, any more than it is any other concept you attach to that practice. You conclusion here is false.

    You write:

    You yourself practice a sort of faux deconstruction when you say take an entire article with a long history of thinkers, movements, critcisms, counter-claims and reduce it to one piece you disagree with (say practices) and then show the entire idea/argument fails because of that piece.

    Excuse me, Chris, but that it not what I have done, and you show again that you mangle what I write. I have made several arguments in this thread, way before you introduced that excerpt of a dictionary definition that I responded to. Several arguments in addition to the one I made regarding how an idea cannot be a practice. To reduce beyond the bounds of good faith and decent discourse is something you have already done in this thread, and I would ask again that you refrain from doing so anymore.

    You write:

    This is like arguing with someone about whether air exists.

    Actually it isn’t, whatsoever. Air is something we can point to by means of both scientific measurement and common sense measurement. “Postmodernism” is no such thing. Air is materially tangible; postmoderism represents nothing material, but only conceptual thought. Comparing air and postmodernism is absurd on its face. Akin to comparing heroism and a car.

    You write:

    You having an argument with someone else(s) through me.

    If you are defending postmodernism as a viable concept or term (which, unless you want to recant all of the above in this thread, you are), then I am arguing with you, Chris. If you are the one who titled a post “conservative postmodernism(s)” in reference to a website’s mission statement, then I am arguing with you. Your attempt to suggest that our argument is a matter of “location” is a cop-out, a misguided reduction, and an avoidance. It is also Wilberism. Oh, wait, I was just redundant.

    You write:

    Read Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Hume.

    Then read Heidegger, Derrida, Foucault.

    Even if you think the later are completely wrong, bad scholars, not reading the texts, whatever. But tell me there isn’t a different feel to their work. That they aren’t going in directions through means that the earlier ones did not. That their works don’t live, breathe, feel, and argue for a different way.

    That’s it by postmodernism friend.

    I fail to see why author mannerisms, style or their intellectual means/ends matter to question in contention between us of whether postmodernism is a viable concept and term. Plato wrote differently that Zizek or Toni Morrison. So what? One judges a writer whether what he or she says makes any sense. Plato, Morrison, Hobbes, Locke, and a whole slew of other do. Anyone “postmodern” doesn’t, as a good general rule of thumb, demonstrable by their own, nonsensical writings that babble on about all sorts of notions they think they’ve discovered or innovated or formulated when, in fact, they haven’t. The academy in this country is filled with such writers, sadly.

    md

  18. Since you played that card of outside text, that dictionary, I’ll call you on that, in this poker game we play.

    I call with the Dictionary of the History of Ideas. Note that “postmodernism” appears nowhere. Besides the fact that that’s telling, it is another reason why it is one of my favorite online resources.

    And I’ll raise you not only the 103 Great Ideas, researched comprehensively by Mortimer Adler (my favorite philosopher). Also, no mention of postmodernism. But also this article, with the apt quote:

    Postmodernism is the irrational response of today’s intellectuals to the failure of socialism both in theory and in practice. It is through the doctrine of postmodernism that these thinkers and politicians can continue their beliefs in many of the ideas that underpinned the failed worldview of socialism.

    Or in a word, postmodernism is “whining”, that socialism is losing, or in many senses, has lost.

    md

  19. MD,

    Of course Mortimer Adler doesn’t believe in postmodernism. He was A)American and B)Aristotelian & Neo-Thomistic. Exactly my point about how our influences and our choices shape our thinking.

    America is the land of modernity. It has never deeply questioned the assumptions of modernity, for all the progressivism trends you point out (progressivism is still modernism). If it is more like Marx as you say, Marx was a modernist.

    And Neo-Thomism and Aristotelianism are built on a realist essentialist form of philosophy. Which is exactly what I’ve been criticizing in your thoughts from the get go.

    Adler couldn’t acknowledge pomo in any other way than as failed socialism because to have done so would have undermined too much of his own thinking.

    It would be hard to call Heidegger a failed socialist given that he never apologized for his Nazi affiliation. Unless of course Adler meant National Socialism–which would cover Heidegger. But for sure does not cover Derrida who was definitely a Marxist. Which socialism was it again that he meant?

    And in terms of the Great Ideas book…you quote a 1973 piece. I tried looking up Philip Wiener, the editor–to understand his own philosophical thinking–but couldn’t find anything on him.

    How does this argument from authority help? I suggested an encyclopedia entry from an expert because you asked for a definition. This is not the as what you are doing here.

    Yes, lots of philosophers don’t believe in postmodernism. Others believe in it and think it wrong. Lots of others do. How has this proved your point?

    Search under “postmodernism” on Amazon.com and you will find a number of very good (and plenty not good) books on the subject.

    So we’re exactly back at the beginning. I’m citing certain pieces, you are citing others. You’re convinced of your position as I mine.

    You live in a modernist city. I live in a postmodern one. The Logic of Late Capitalism as one title suggests. That was the reference to the air I made and the reference to locations. Not the prosaic lazy analogy you made it out to be.

    Both of us actually think postmodernism is generally a problem. You think it a fake illusory reality which is why you promote a return to a modern classical liberal mentality.

    I, following in the Hebraic theological tradition (not reduced to literature as you border on doing), think that things that are must be good. They can be limited and/or perverted (both of which pomo certainly is) but there must be some grain of truth in them.

    Hence I argue for moving past postmodernism, transmuting some of it for what I see as a better end.

    Given that difference, I don’t see the point in going any further was this thread. What else is there to say that hasn’t already been done so by either of us?

    Peace.

  20. Chris,

    I love how you think you know Adler. Such confidence in talking about him, you exhibit. As if these characteristics you list a determinative. “Of course Adler doesn’t believe…”; “Adler couldn’t acknowledge…” So odd; have you read his work?

    You obviously didn’t follow the last link, because Adler wasn’t the one talking about postmodernism and socialism. That was Edward W. Younkins, a person I know nothing about but whose remarks about postmodernism are spot on.

    So, check your certainty about Adler, since you erred in concluding that it “underminded” Adler’s thinking.

    We are back at the beginning because you ignore my points. You absolutely do that, constantly, and definetely here. You answer few of my questions, worded in everyday, plain language so as to be easily understandable. You refuse to address the obvious semantic impossibility of a word supposedly meaning so much yet is at the same time “undefinable”. You refuse to demonstrate how your list of attributes of “postmodernism” relates to the mission statement of a conservative website, which is the anchor of this discussion. You refuse to take back your reductions of my arguments to trifle.

    This is a case, if I may say so, of you simply refusing to take the plain meaning of my arguments at face value, simply because I attack an important part of your philosophical approach.

    You can’t go for anything “post-postmodern” without buying into the validity of the term “postmodern” in precisely the way I’m criticizing that term. Adopting “post-postmodern” accepts the validity of the larger taxonomy that “postmodern” is part of. Something like pre-modern, modern, post-modern, post-postmodern, etc.

    You have not demonstrated that “postmodernism” is anything beyond an idea.

    You now claim that postmodern refers to kinds of cities. Add that to the list of things this undefinable term means. Of course, you don’t actually say how cities are modern or postmodern. That, apparently, would be to helpful to the discussion. No, let’s keep things undefinable. That gives the postmodernists all the plausible deniability they need to never actually be held accountable for what the hell they mean.

    And, even here, so far into this discussion, you mangle my words, yet again. You write:


    Both of us actually think postmodernism is generally a problem. You think it a fake illusory reality which is why you promote a return to a modern classical liberal mentality.

    A “fake illusory reality”????

    Christ. That is not what I think. I think the.term.doesn’t.mean.anything. It can’t mean all the things you list on this thread. Nothing can. Plus, it is undefinable.

    I’ll ask yet again — why don’t your semantic red flags wave left and right given all this?

    And now you claim to know the underlying reason why I discuss classical education? How presumptuous. Of course, being presumptuous is right at the heart of postmodern writing.

    Finally, you write this:


    America is the land of modernity. It has never deeply questioned the assumptions of modernity
    .

    No, Chris. That’s just tired. America is the land of liberty. The dream of Western Europe, because Western Europe could never truly be a land of liberty, given its history. This is the land of liberty of thought, of living the state of mind that is the condition of liberty.

    America is not the place, or shouldn’t be, for tired taxonomies of continental philosophy.

    How are you convinced of a position based on an undefinable term? Answer me that.

    md

  21. Here we go again….

    Adler. I have read some Adler. Not everything the man ever wrote.

    You read an article by Desilet on Derrida and tell me the thing proves what you already believed, it is useless. I could be wrong on this one, but you haven’t yet shown me you’ve read any Derrida and yet you flay him (rightly or wrongly) up and down the board.

    Interestingly, you never questioned my description of him as holding realist, Aristotle, Neo-Thomist views. That is not the same as assuming I know everything about him. This is just your way of not ever having to do with the issues I raise (which is what you constantly accuse me of–double standard in the air?).

    Fair enough I confused the quotations. But the point still stands minus the quotation. If Adler holds a realist position, he doesn’t accept postmodernism because postmodernism philosophies, among other things, criticize realism. Socialism or no. Zero sum.

    I did not err in the point about pomo (if correct) undermining Adler.

    I didn’t say people shouldn’t ever read Adler. That he isn’t a smart fellow. That I understand everything about him. You need to get a grip on this stuff. Good God.

    Hell even the quotation–I got the wrong guy, but did you even bother to respond to the retort (Heidegger)? No you just say it’s spot on. How? Why should I or anyone else believe you? What happened to the criticism of that view I made?

    –Postmodern city. I referred to the title of the book as the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Hardly means I think a city is postmodern but rather the views, attitudes common in such a place.

    Of course I accept some variation of a premodern, modern, postmodern, post-postmodern system. Therefore it would follow that a term like postmodern in such a context could involve an extremely broad range of things given that I think it is a heuristic term pointing to an entire world life-complex. Including ethics, identities, spiritualities, how people organize themselves physically, economically, culturally, and politically.

    It’s just a finger pointing to the moon word. You’re always taking it for the moon itself.

    This is the same argument in a different vein that always occurs between us–can there be a third person point of view of the within? It isn’t about postmodernism per se; it’s about structuralism(s) period.

    The grounding I make for the term is through a structuralist analysis. If there is no structuralism, you’re right you’ve sunk my Battleship.

    It’s the method that is at issue more so than the term itself.

    If it’s not this word it will be some other.

    The reason postmodern is undefinable is because a key claim of much postmodern thinking is to move to constructed, historical understandings. i.e. Don’t want an abstract once and for all definition outside of a conversation (dialogical versus monological).

    As if they were some one thing out there somewhere known as postmodernism that any rational person could look at and describe.

    It gets back to the idea versus praxis model. I’m saying you only find postmodernism by doing postmodernism. By saying its an idea and nothing more you prejudice the conversation from the start.

    If pomo is so undefinable how can you say “it is only an idea.” And a meaningless one at that. That’s a definition if I’ve ever heard one. Apparently, you’ve answered your own question and not very well I have to tell you.

    You’ll say this is laziness on my part, but I actually believe what I’m about to write. The point about praxis involves location, choice, values. You are not going to take up any practices, be in any such communities, etc. You are never (as is necessary) walk into the thinking, the life stories, the arguments with a Mind of “as if” it were true.

    So it’s true it doesn’t exist for you. Why would it?

    All the things I was talking about before–and again you can get that from Peirce. Someone I look to as a guide. He and James Mark Baldwin started doing genealogy and constructivism back in the 19th century just without all the inanities of later post WWII death of the West writers.

    And again for me that is only one of many perspectives to be taken into account. Usually pomo means for me at best a healthy reminder of where the modern project has not penetrated and/or failed, built on some faulty assumptions. As an actual guiding system, it’s a bloody mess.

    –I gave multiple answers to your charge that I wasn’t validating the postmodern and conservative link. You didn’t buy any of them. Then you in the next breath say I haven’t offered any—which is it dude? I’ve really lost track.

    You don’t agree with them, fine, but none of this playing both sides of the fence nonsense.

    The basic version of that argument was the line around breaking down the barrier between journalism and political activism, facts and opinion struck me as a postmodern statement because it reminded me of a constant theme of many writers identified as postmodern, either self-so or by others: namely the destruction of the modern philosophical assumption (see Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Locke, Hume) concerning the separation of the individual ego which can observe naturally the outside world of nature and human history as if their observation did not in some manner affect what it observed.

    The modern ego, sitting as it were in an isolated tower. And this is not as simple a statement as saying that those philosophers weren’t aware of society.

    Take Adam Smith. Smith, as I’m sure you know, was a moral philosopher, economy being a branch of moral philosophy. He believed economically the invisible hand of the market regulated the affairs–assuming a free market.

    Morally he assumed that society would/should create spaces that were non-marketized. Society would put a halt to the market in certain areas.

    But he thought that society was composed of sealed-off monads, billiard ball atom-like being bouncing into one another.

    Smith never considered a position proffered by say a Vysgotsky that ideas enter the individual through the collective. [I think the movement goes both ways; I subscribe neither to a socialized version nor an atomized individualist one].

    And Smith never asked another question worth asking: is there ever really such a thing as a free market. If no, why not?

    A postmodern trend would be to look at the actual history and see if there is such a thing as a free market instead of determining in the ahistorical, non-embodied abstract beforehand whether or not it logically must follow whether such a market must be the case.

    Where that goes south (imo) is when that specific criticism turns into everything is nothing but power politics, a narrative that there are no narratives, and the ideal of anti-ideals. I’m with you on that one.

    At this point I am yet again going to say that I defend the modern project. I like Habermas think it has to be grounded philosophically no longer in an isolated monad type thinking but rather in communicative reason.

    Which is why I want the United States to be a land of liberty and responsibility.

    Modern + postmodern
    Critically modern
    Post-postmodern
    Constructively postmodern.

    Whatever. That’s where it is for me.

  22. You are right that I didn’t respond regarding Heidegger, nor your characterizations Adler, nor, probably, more things you raise. I’m generally loathe to respond to points that veer from the subject at hand — which in this case, is whether the word postmodernism means anything. Maybe that’s not what you think the subject here is; but it is the general gist of the first comment I made that set off this thread, and I’ve viewed it is the sturdy anchor to fall back on as you have, as is your habit, brought lots of secondary and (in my view) unrelated people and ideas into the mix, which serves not to clarify but to foggify.

    First, small points. Chris, where say you said no one should read Adler? I did no such thing.

    The piece by Desilet? I asked you about it regarding whether his statement, “Deconstruction exposes the unwarrantable assumptions …” is true, in your view. I really don’t appreciate what you are implying. But, since it has to do with this thread, I’ll say comment that at the heart of classical education is the habit of questioning assumptions, and for deconstructionists/postmodernists to claim that as their own big idea (which they do) is flat out wrong and naive.

    You write:

    Interestingly, you never questioned my description of him as holding realist, Aristotle, Neo-Thomist views.

    Right, because that whole way of characterizing a thinker (“neo”- this, “-ist” that, etc.) is a method of classification that I don’t find at all useful or even descriptive. Aristotle, for one, contains multitudes. A so-called “Aristotilian” could mean a thousand different things. Having read Aristotle’s Ethics recently, among everything else it was a reminder that I don’t agree with several of the common views held as convention in academia about Aristotle. In other words, thinking for myself, I find the classifications and taxonomies used to describe his work false and unpersuasive.

    Or, simply, I question the assumptions; which is precisely what I’m doing with regard to the term, postmodernism. In my experience of doing this, it is quite entertaining to see how postmodernists respond to having their assumptions questioned; same goes for post-postmodernists (whatever that means); same goes for Wilberists. But I digress…

    If Adler holds a realist position, he doesn’t accept postmodernism because postmodernism philosophies, among other things, criticize realism.

    It is presumptuous for you to say “he doesn’t accept”.

    No you just say it’s spot on. How? Why should I or anyone else believe you? What happened to the criticism of that view I made?

    Why respond when you have the speaker of it confused with someone else?

    Why is it spot on? Because the article both (to my mind) accurately characterizes what postmodernists believe, or at least close enough, and then gets to the deeper assumptions postmodernists seem to have. The article gets things right, such as “Postmodernists are constantly redefining themselves and are searching for new meaning.”

    That is just true, from my experience.

    You wrote, a couple comments back:

    It would be hard to call Heidegger a failed socialist given that he never apologized for his Nazi affiliation. Unless of course Adler meant National Socialism–which would cover Heidegger. But for sure does not cover Derrida who was definitely a Marxist. Which socialism was it again that he meant?

    All of them, to the extent that these share at least the common premise that the State is not particularly constrained and limited. Marxism is just a strain of the larger socialist umbrella of thought.

    But the quote was in particular talking about “today’s intellectuals”. Not the original thinkers you cite, necessarily, but rather their contemporary followers in academia, I think. The postmodernists that pollute our universities.

    Of course I accept some variation of a premodern, modern, postmodern, post-postmodern system.

    Good, we are getting somewhere. Now, in following as I have for several comments now, I ask, why do you accept this? Each of those terms are impossible vague and undefinable. I encourage you to explore the possibility of discarding that taxonomy. Because I think it hinders rather than stimulates the truth quest, because the unintended consequences of this taxonomy, I think, are to put a wet blanket over human liberty.

    You write:

    The basic version of that argument was the line around breaking down the barrier between journalism and political activism, facts and opinion struck me as a postmodern statement because it reminded me of a constant theme of many writers identified as postmodern, either self-so or by others: namely the destruction of the modern philosophical assumption (see Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Locke, Hume) concerning the separation of the individual ego which can observe naturally the outside world of nature and human history as if their observation did not in some manner affect what it observed.

    And I countered that how can you make that statement, given that your assessment takes into account nothing of the actual content of the site. In other words, how is this assessment of “postmodern” not utterly superficial? I believe it is, to the core.

    You write:

    Which is why I want the United States to be a land of liberty and responsibility.

    Modern + postmodern
    Critically modern
    Post-postmodern
    Constructively postmodern.

    Whatever. That’s where it is for me.

    It will never be those because you, nor others who adopt that pre, post, post-post taxonomy are simply unable in general langauge able to explain what the hell these terms mean. I have read and re-read this entire thread several times, and each time I feel further from actual understanding of what you mean by “postmodernism”, much less what any kind of generalized definition would be. Although I will admit that the following helps, a little:

    A postmodern trend would be to look at the actual history and see if there is such a thing as a free market instead of determining in the ahistorical, non-embodied abstract beforehand whether or not it logically must follow whether such a market must be the case.

    But, why is this “postmodern”? I don’t think it is at all. It is just what a person researching the subject would do, a person doing their homework, being rigorous, looking at history. Postmodernism doesn’t get to claim for itself the responsibilities of scholarship. Postmodernism doesn’t get to claim for itself the idea that it is important to question assumptions, either. Hell, that’s most of what Socrates did in the Plato dialogues.

    You write:

    a term like postmodern in such a context could involve an extremely broad range of things given that I think it is a heuristic term pointing to an entire world life-complex. Including ethics, identities, spiritualities, how people organize themselves physically, economically, culturally, and politically.

    It’s just a finger pointing to the moon word. You’re always taking it for the moon itself.

    Talk about ethics, identities, spiritualities, how people organize themselves physically, economically, culturally, and politically all you want. You can do so without aid of the postmodern taxonomy. And you should, because the unintended consequences of using that taxonomy is to insist upon a fundamental conclusion before the evidence bears it out. It is to read for context, rather concrete details.

    You know, a lot of our argument relates to the controversy in educational circles between methods of learning how to read. The phonics vs look-say debate.

    Chris, my aims here are perhaps more limited than you are taking them. I’ll explain by responding to this:

    The reason postmodern is undefinable is because a key claim of much postmodern thinking is to move to constructed, historical understandings. i.e. Don’t want an abstract once and for all definition outside of a conversation (dialogical versus monological).

    Note, logically, your B need not at all follow from your A. The reason postmodernism is undefinable is because people want it to mean far more than anything can mean.

    As if they were some one thing out there somewhere known as postmodernism that any rational person could look at and describe.

    Which is precisely why it is an idea.

    It gets back to the idea versus praxis model. I’m saying you only find postmodernism by doing postmodernism.

    No you don’t. You find postmodernism by thinking. About a concept. In response to some external event or behavior. You are confusing categories, here.

    By saying its an idea and nothing more you prejudice the conversation from the start.

    It, like many other things, is an idea, a concept. Nothing is prejudiced by acknowledging this. Liberty, prophecy, God — these are ideas, too.

    My mere contention is that, as an idea, postmodernism sinks of its own baggage, the baggage its users want it to mean.

    If pomo is so undefinable how can you say “it is only an idea.” And a meaningless one at that.

    Easily. It is a mental lens people like you want to use to see and think about the world. It is rendered meaningless because no lens can focus on everything. In attempting to, objects of perception necessarily become blurry, to some degree. The more one wants a single lens to be able to see, the more things get blurry.

    Postmodernism, and its larger taxonomy, is a blur on being and knowledge. My proposal for remedy is to discard the entire taxonomy, and simply adopt a philosophical life that uses as objects of meditation the ideas and perceptions that regularly pop up in great works of the integrated Humanities. General knowledge, across the disciplines, finding problems, questioning assumptions, returning to the great works time and time again, living a contemporary life.

    md

  23. I also want to point out something of yours here that is simply wrong:

    By identity politics I meant the site specifically states it is “the first conservative web community.” That’s a political identity. Given what I’m calling the postmodern context, there is a move towards staying with your tribe.

    Under this formulation of “identity politics”, those words “identity” and “politics” are redundant. I predicted that in order to accurately apply the phrase “identity politics” to Townhall.com, you would have to contort the meaning of “identity politics” beyond recognition, and you’ve done just that.

    What is “politics” without people (i.e., voters) finding identification within what’s in play?

    Politics is inherantly tribal. Which means people finding commonality of what’s being politically fought for, or advocated. Without “political identity”, there is no political contest in any meaningful sense of the term.

    Thus, you are simply wrong to claim that Townhall.com, through their mission statement or anything else, is an example of “identity politics”.

    The funny thing is that, Chris, you actually know what “identity politics” actually means, in regular parlance, and you have chosen to pretend that meaning or usage doesn’t exist, in order to make this point.

    md


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