Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Stephen Hicks in his book quotes Frank Lentricchia, a noted Duke University literary critic. Postmodernism, says Lentricchia, "seeks not to find the foundation or conditions of truth but to exercise power for the purpose of social change."

As I have noted in earlier posts, postmodern rhetoric explicitly rejects truth, and because of this it is indifferent to consistency and dismissive of reason.

It is because of the pervasive influence of postmodern philosophy and the ubiquitous use of postmodern rhetoric by the political left that Randall Hoven has had an epiphany. In, "Stop Making Sense", he says:
I've been suffering under the wrong paradigm for decades. All this time I thought what mattered was "reality." How wrong I've been....

Before my epiphany, if you had asked me about some problem or policy, I would have tried to analyze it -- asking, or even answering, what I thought were pertinent questions. Say we were talking health care. I would have looked up what we spend on it, life expectancies, infant mortality, disease survival rates, etc. I might have wanted to know what the cost drivers are, how much we spend for each year of life saved, how we compare to other countries. That sort of thing.

How silly of me. And how futile. The answer is simple: propose a "New Era of Responsible Health Care", fund it with a trillion dollars and assign a czar.

You need to read it all, but Hoven comes to this sad conclusion:
When we were dealing with nature, rational thinking anchored in reality was key. It led to those transportation, communication, health and agricultural advances, plus plenty of labor saving devices and methods. You might think it was high-minded liberalism that ended slavery. Was it just coincidence that an institution that had flourished for multiple millennia ended during the industrial revolution?

But when the adversary is not nature, but fellow men, rationality as normally considered is out the window. We live in a world where Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank are taken seriously. Where Libya is given the chair on the Human Rights commission at the UN. Where heads of state genuinely believe sheep farts are dangerously heating up the planet.

As Vladimir Lenin was commenting on "all those starving people who are starting to eat each other, who are dying by the millions," Walter Duranty was the New York Times Moscow bureau chief saying things were just wonderful there. He won a Pulitzer Prize for that.

Here is the awful truth: it's not what is true, it's what you can convince others to believe.

Bill Clinton knew this instinctively. When most of us learned about logical fallacies, for example, we thought of them as things to be avoided since they could lead us astray -- away from truth. But to Bill Clinton, those fallacies were something to adopt, since they are effective ways to persuade.

He beat an impeachment rap for one simple reason: he was popular. It had nothing to do with being innocent, or what I had called, prior to my epiphany, reality. He beat the rap because people liked him.

It's neither the law nor the facts, but what you can get the jury to do.

While absorbing that concept, consider that about one third of the US population thinks the phrase, "to each according to his need, from each according to his abilities," is in the US Constitution. One third also believes that the US government conspired in the 911 attacks. A majority thinks sheep farts have more to do with temperature variations on earth than the ball of nuclear fire the size of 1.3 million earths that is eight light-minutes away.

And now, as stock markets plummet around the globe and our national debt is set to triple in just two years, the number of people who believe we are on the right track has tripled.[emphasis mine]

Rather than setting you free, in the postmodern world, the truth just keeps you from believing what you--or someone else--wants to believe; and therefore it must be banned from polite conversation.

In this "innovative", postmodern world view you are permitted-nay encouraged!--to break free from the oppressive shackles of reality and venture into the realm of a "higher" reality, where fools like Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank are taken seriously. And where a grandiose and glib, but charismatic man deeply immersed in the contradictory discourse of postmodern rhetoric and the collectivist ideology of "social justice" is elected President of the U.S.

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner diagrees with that President on what is the most dangerous leagacy of the Cold War--and it is not nuclear weapons:
To me, the most obvious dangerous legacy of the Cold War would have to be the damage the Soviets did to the world. I don't mean the millions they murdered; those dead do not threaten us now, even if they should haunt us.

I mean the relentless distortion of the truth, the psychological violence they visited on the West and the World via their useful idiots and their agents. I'm thinking not merely of the intellectual corruption of the American Left (which even folks like Richard Rorty had to concede), but the corruption of reformers and their movements around the globe. Soviet propaganda still contaminates, while nuclear fallout does not. Lies about America, the West, and the nature of democratic capitalism live on throughout the third world and in radioactive pockets on American campuses.[emphasis mine]

In order to survive their crushing defeat in the Cold War, the remnants of Soviet communism, along with failed Marxist, socialists and communists around the globe had to evolve and mutate into a form that would not be easily recognized; but the fundamental toxicity of their ideology remained as potent as ever. And it is these various mutations that are truly the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War.

In postmodern philosophy and rhetoric, they found the perfect epistemological, ethical and political vessel to reassert their poison. And that is why, despite the untold misery and the millions of dead that were the result of the implementation of their political policies, their ideology never quite made it to the garbage dump of history.

The politically useful concept of "social justice" is now the dominant philosophy forced down the throats of teachers, who obediently spoon feed it to their students from kindergarden through college; while in academia they use "science" to demonize their enemies.

Additionally, it is postmodern philosophy which is at the heart of such irrational concepts as political correctness, multiculturalism and radical environmentalism, three of the four pillars of the socialist/communist--or, more accurately, the neo-Marxist--revival that has been staged in this first decade of the 21st century.

Remember that postmodernism eschews truth and those who adhere to its ideas prefer to exercise power to force social change. They live in a world of contradiction and emotion. Their strategy is not to persuade people to accept their ideas, but to confuse them; to distort the truth, propagate lies and smears; and to use whatever rhetoric is necessary to accomplish their purposes.

Since rhetorical skill is essential to accomplish their purposes, it is little wonder that a trancendently inexperienced but rhetorically gifted nobody like Barack Obama would rise to the top of the [garbage] heap. His career has been meteoric, and is based entirely on words, not deeds or accomplishments. In truth, he is the quintessential political postmodern demagogue; skilled in the neo-Marxist/fascist talking points and easily able to convince all who hear him of his passionate committment to "social justice," (better understood as the redistribution of wealth) and universal peace and brotherhood (better known as the appeasement and enabling of evil).

Nothing that is going on now makes any sense, unless you understand that "sense" is not a useful concept when one is talking about postmodernism. That's why to get out of debt we are spending more money and digging deeper; that's why to defend against the North Korean missile threat, we are cutting down on our missile defense...and so on. Truth does not matter; all that matters is that people believe it is true

As Mark Steyn says in his response to Goldberg's post,
It's not just embarassing to hear the so-called "leader of the free world" talking like a 14-year old who's been up in his room listening to "Imagine" for too long. I fear this presidency has the makings of global tragedy.

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