I made a tweet regarding events in Chile on this day in 1973, and included a link to an article that, placing the blame above all on Washington, was also critical of Allende. Someone tweeted this back: “FWIW that narrative differs from the one you find in Chile, where e.g. Allende is regarded as socialist.”
The word “narrative” jumped out at me, and I realized suddenly that it had been months since I last spewed forth my utter hatred and disgust for post-modern philosophy.
Post-modernism is built on the notion that we can’t actually know anything, we only construct “narratives.” The very concept of “narrative” carries the implication that one is as good as another, and one chooses a narrative based on one’s goals. But goals are subjective; truth is objective, and thus to interpret the world based on narrative is to deny that it is possible to actually know anything. But all of human progress has come from the effort to know things, and then act on that knowledge. It’s not about “narrative,” it’s about the effort to discover the laws of motion that guide processes in the objective world. This inevitably leads the post-modernist to reject the concept of progress. I find this appalling. Also, stupid.
Post-modernism works very hard to use language that obfuscates and excludes–that’s why it’s so easily subject to hoaxing; anything that wants to consider itself a science ought to make clarity and precision and transparency guiding principles. In particular, post-modernism uses Marxist-sounding lingo in its effort to undermine what is most vital for Marxism–that is, understanding social processes and communicating that understanding to the working class.
As I said earlier, post-modernism attacks and rejects the very notion of progress. They do so, today, using the latest and most advanced technology that progress has produced.
Post-modernism is built on attacking Enlightenment beliefs. There were, to be sure, ideas produced by the Enlightenment that deserve serious criticism: the perfectibility of Man, for example, or the belief that human thought can be independent of time, place, and material conditions. But post-modernism attacks what was most progressive in the Enlightenment: the idea that human beings can learn, can work to improve conditions, can make advances in social and economic equality.
Post-modernism not only rejects the notion that we can learn from history, but, in many cases, insists that there is no such thing–that there is no objective truth to be known in past events. The idea that people will study history from the point of view of their own beliefs is not new; historians have known it as long as the discipline of history has existed. To go from there to utter rejection of the validity of historical study is like saying that, because human beings are mortal, the medical profession should be abolished. I suspect many post-modernists have visited a doctor (although, in many cases, I wish they hadn’t).
During a discussion at this year’s Fourth Street, someone mentioned that, in the arts and sciences, post-modernism was most associated with, among other things, architecture. Someone at the table where we were sitting remarked, “I don’t know about you, but I want the person who designed the building I’m in to believe there’s an objective world.”
ETA: After some discussion with jenphalian, it seems I need to clarify something. The word “narrative” is not, in fact, evil. There are times it’s appropriate when discussing someone’s view of events and interpretation of facts. But I will stand by my position that these times do not include efforts to understand politics, economics, or, really, anything beyond the personal level.