Sunday, January 30, 2011


Eric Allie captures perfectly the difference between rhetoric and reality in this cartoon:

Obama, the perfect postmodern President is a master at the art of rhetoric--which is at the heart of all progressive postmodern leftist attempts to obtain and consolidate power. With postmodern rhetoric you can "talk" tough, but carry a limp stick. You can say whatever your audience at the moment wants to hear and still be philosophically consistent when you do exactly the opposite. Or you can say the opposite to a different audience (just like these guys) since truth is not the objective; only manipulation and deceit to achieve the desired political effect.

It's a sleight of hand known as using "contradictory discourses" and it is a political strategy where truth is rejected explicitly and consistency is an extremely rare phenomenon. As I said, what matters more than truth (or honesty) is achieving the desired political outcome (i.e., getting others to believe what you want them to believe about what you believe).

It's all very postmodern; very philosophically chic; and very Obama and the left.

What's important to the postmodern demagogue is the language's effectiveness at achieving the desired result. Stephen Hicks wrote in Explaining Postmodernism[pages 175-177]:
To the modernist, the "mask" metaphor is a recognition of the fact that words are not always to be taken literally or as directly stating a fact--that people largely use language elliptically, metaphorically, or to state falsehoods, that language can be textured with layers of meaning, and that it can be used to cover hypocrisies or to rationalize. Accordingly, unmasking means interpreting or investigating to a literal meaning or fact of the matter. The process of unmasking is cognitive, guided by objective standards, with the purpose of coming to an awareness of reality.

For the postmodernist, by contrast, interpretation and investigation never terminate with reality. Language connects only with more language, never with a non-linguistic reality....

For the postmodernist, language cannot be cognitive because it does not connect to reality, whether to an external nature or an underlying self. Language is not about being aware of the world, or about distinguishing the true from the false, or even about argument in the traditional sense of validity, soundness, and probability. Accordingly, postmodernism recasts the nature of rehtoric. Rhetoric is persasion in the absence of cognition....

Hicks goes on to note that:
Language is a tool of social interaction, and one's model of social interaction dictate what kind of tool language is used as....

And so given the conflict models of social relations that dominate postmodern discourse, it makes perfect sense that to most postmodernists language is primarily a weapon.

This explains the harsh nature of much postmodern rhetoric. The regular deployments of ad hominem, the setting up of straw men, the regular attempts to silence opposing voices are all logical consequences of the postmodern epistemology of language. Stanley Fish, as noted in Chapter Four, calls all opponents of racial preferences bigots and lumps them in with the Ku Klux Klan. Andrea Dworking calls all heterosexual males rapists and repeatedly labels "Amerika" a fascist state. With such rhetoric, truth or falsity is not the issue: what matters primarily is the language's effectiveness.

If we now add to the postmodern epistemology of language the far Left politics of the leading postmodernists and their firsthand awareness of the cirses of socialist thought and practice, then the verbal weaponry has to become explosive.{emphasis mine]

Got all that? Now if you'd like to have a perfect example of how a slick leftist/ postmodernist uses language and rhetorical skill to manipulate and produce maximum effectiveness depending on his audience; and the way a modernist (i.e., someone connected to reality, truth, and reason) unmasks them and reconnects them with reality (whether they like it or not), then check out the differences between Obama's SOTU speech and Paul Ryan's response.

You might also note the rise in ad hominem attacks directed at Ryan who is able to clearly and logically (and without all the "winning the future" BS) express the illogic of the Obama's failed approach to the economy. This tactic too, is a direct outcome of postmodern rhetoric. All threats to the effectiveness of their message must be attacked, just as Sarah Palin has been demonized ever since she became a visible and popular figure in the GOP. George Bush, of course, is the perennial fallback guy to blame for anything that goes wrong in the world (Chris Matthews recently blamed him on Hardball for the riots in Egypt--and, I don't think it was to compliment him); and meanwhile, Obama's trusty minions hardly notice the cognitive dissonance required to compare the empty suit with FDR one minute and Ronald Reagan the next.

In postmodern philosophy and rhetoric, the left and its mouthpiece Obama have found the perfect epistemological, ethical and political vessel to reassert their ideology--an ideology that requires the willing suspension of reality by its adherents to "win the future."

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