Re: R: postmodernism and liberalism

Just a thought,
is there a way of providing a more adequate ground for this
Perhaps it would be useful to be clear about what or who is referred
to by the term 'postmodernism'. Criticisms of postmodernism and post-
structuralism often assumes some homogenous position or theory which
connects thinkers as diverse as Deleuze, Derrida and Baudrillard.
While connections and similarities can no doubt be made, conflating
these 'positions'- or indeed postmodernism and post-structuralism- is
not at all helpful. I agree that there is some bad scholarship out
there that names itself postmodern or post-structuralist and draws on
thinkers such as Foucault, Derrida etc- however, there is plenty of
bad thinking going on under the name of 'Marxism', 'Marx' and so-
called 'real struggles' for 'the people'- plenty of rich, complacent
Marxists occupying seats in the academy. Personally, I believe that
Foucault raises significant questions and provides important
correctives to 'Marxism'- but it would be useful to discuss the
'pros' and 'cons' of such an intervention rather than attacking a
'straw man'. It seems to me that anti-post-structuralism and anti-
postmodernism is just as likely to reject ideas and theories and thus
shut down dialogue and refuse to address the specific terms of
engagement as any (bad) post-structuralist or postmodernist rejection
of Marxism. It often is the case the attacks on Foucault, Lyotard and
Derrida appear to mask an anxiety and concern on the part of
the critic- concerns about a challenge to 'tradition'- 'the canon'-
'status quo'- the'establishment' etc- and such a attack often
presents itself as another excuse not to read the works of these
thinkers themselves. THis is not to say that such criticism is not
helpful- clearly it is very important.
However, how often do such critiques use secondary sources
rather than the primary texts? Perhaps we should be more clear about
what and who we are discussing.

Stephen Pritchard
PhD Candidate
Centre for Comparative Literature & Cultural Studies
Monash University

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