R: Postmodernism & Liberalism

-----Original Message-----
From: RICHARD PITHOUSE <pithouse@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Wednesday, March 03, 1999 11:22 AM
Subject: Re: Postmodernism & Liberalism

>On Tue, 2 Mar 1999, TOM DILLINGHAM wrote:
>> I see no issues, merely a tired and cliched repetition....
>The paper's hardly brilliant but it is interesting to note that when
>devotees of the postmodern cult are confronted with its obvious complicity
>with oppression (and in particular with what Anthony Richmond calls
>'Global Apartheid') they usually reply in terms suited to a contemptuous
>dismissing of yesterday's fashion.

Yes, it's true, whenever I'm confronted with my obvious complicity with
oppression I adopt a tragically hip attitude.

The rule of intellectual charity requires -- note it is not an option! --
that any time you engage in intellectual discourse you construe the position
of your interlocutor as favorably as possible. The regular violation of this
rule by self-styled 'opponents' of postmodernism -- as if this were a fad
and not a condition -- is the surest sign of their intellectual bankruptcy.
And I say that as a strict follower of the rule of intellectual charity!

>The implication of this type of
>response is clear: Postmodernism is more about being hip, aesthetically
>sophisticated etc than about being right or, for that matter, just.

"Postmodernism is more about being hip...than about being...just." Will
someone please apply the rule of intellectual charity to this thought!

>It's no coincidence that postmodernism really took off when the USA was
>defeated in Vietnam and Britian, France etc hounded out of Africa and

Yes it is.

>It's also no coincidence that in South Africa former supporters of
>apartheid tend to love postmodernism while its former opponents tend to
>see it as nothing by a self serving and very convenient way of giving a
>progressive gloss to what are in practice very conservative ideas and

It's true. P.W. Botha recently wrote an op-ed piece in a Johannesburg paper
where he wrote, "I tend to love postmodernism."

>Postmodernism is the prefect prozac for people living through
>what Fanon called the crises of European man.

I thought Fanon was the perfect prozac for people living through the crisis
of postmodernism.

>But it doesn't do much for
>the Palistinian who's just been evicted from his home, the Indian or
>Kenyan farmer whose just discovered that a multinational owns the
>'intellectual property rights' to her seed, the African state paying 40%
>of its revenue to Western banks, the Indonesian student stuggling against
>a barbaric regime that's been nurtured and propped by by the West for
>years, the 20% of South African children who don't have access to
>sufficient protein for healthy development etc, etc,

You were expecting maybe Fourier? Karl Marx?

>Postmodern thinkers have made many valuable contributions to theory and
>the movement as a whole has been a neccessary corrective to all sorts of
>metaphysical delusions and totalising tendencies.

Now look who's being intellectually charitable!

>But the world is still a
>fundamentally unjust place and those who believe that the days of
>marcropolitics are over should remember how stupid Daniel Bell's 50's
>comment about the "end of the ideological age" looked when the 60's rolled

Yes, but now it's the late 90s and Bell's comment doesn't look so stupid

>I wouldn't be at all surprised if new stuggles quote (in the style of the
>Zapitsitas) poststructuralists like Foucualt and maybe even postmodernists
>like Laclau. But those thinkers who are happy for the western elite to
>hold the world to economic ransome, bomb whomever they feel like etc, etc
>but argue that truth can only be a function of particular language game
>are pretty much saying "we'll exploit you and bomb you but, sorry, its
>just not hip to talk to you."

How do we get from 'truth is the function of a particular language game' to
'we'll exploit and bomb you but not talk to you'?

-- John

>And that makes them part of the problem.
>Said, Chomsky, Pilger etc expose some of the real nature of the world
>beyond the seminar room and some of the problems that a decent (morally
>and professionally) theorist would take seriously. But if you're looking
>for serious academic challenges to postmodenism check out Christopher
>Norris, Terry Eagleton and Postmodernism and the Other by Ziardar Sardin.
>(The real terrorists are *not* metararratives).
>Richard Pithouse

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