Re: R: postmodernism and liberalism

Comments interspersed throughout.

>On Thu, 4 Mar 1999 sjpri1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
>> Just a thought,
>> is there a way of providing a more adequate ground for this
>> discussion? Perhaps it would be useful to be clear about what or who is
>> referred to by the term 'postmodernism'. Criticisms of postmodernism and
>> structuralism often assumes some homogenous position or theory......
>> however, there is plenty of bad thinking going on under the name of '
>> Marxism'......
>Ah, the voice of reason!
>Sure, I agree with everything you say here. Although, given that this is
>a Foucault list and that (as has been noted) Foucault is a
>poststructuralist rather than a postmodernist, this obviously isn't the
>place to get seriously involved in discussions about postmodernism,
>Marxism, critical theory or anything else outside of the context of


I'm sure someone (not me) can make the argument that Foucault is a
postmodernist, indeed a Marxist, indeed a critical theorist. It all
depends on how one defines postmodernism, a highly contentious field. And
the same might be said of Marxism and critical theory. I'd like to see
someone discuss these in relation to Foucault -- or at least attempt to
make the case.

>That's why I refered people to some books that deal with this
>debate in an interesting way. (Like, on the philosophy side, Christopher
>Norris's "The Truth About Postmodernism" and in the cultural studies vein
>Ziauddin Sardar's "Postmodernism and the Other.")

And that's very helpful. Thanks.

>We all know that theories are contingent social constructions that can't
>hope to do more than generate tools that may improve our understanding of
>the world; that all representations are to a degree fiction; that any
>"we" implies some sort of reduction; that metanarratives of liberation
>like Marxism have resulted in barbarism etc, etc.

Gee, some of the above sounds Foucault-ish

>Concepts like freedom, justice and democracy still
>have work to do. It's also a denial that gives support to the view (of
>Said and others) that postmodernism is, to some degree, an intellectual
>cult rather than a serious attempt to understand the world.

And perhaps the detractors of Foucault might say the same of his work.

>2. While postmodernism has many valuable insights it does often serve as
>ideology which gives a radical/progressive gloss to what are in practice
>very conservative positions. (And, to paraphrase bell hooks, it seems a
>little too convienient that the postmodern critique of the subject has
>arisen at the same time that many subjugated people feel themselves coming
>to voice for the first time.)

Where does hooks say this?

>*A lot of postmodern thought doesn't seem to have understood
> Kant's distinction between conviction (inward revelation) and
> belief (the public sphere of openly accountable reasons,
> arguments, principles, values.)

But perhaps to a pomo that's a false distinction. Can you provide a
citation for this Kant?

>Hence the Gulf War becomes more
> important as a media spectacle than as a reality etc, etc.

And that would be Baudrillard, no?

>*Postmodernism is blind to the political nature of many macro events,
> systems and structures and is not well equipped to speak to us ....

But some postmodernism doesn't pretend to do this.

>The original question was
>"Is postmodernism complicit with the (neo) liberal global order?" I said

I'm still not convinced. Put perhaps my notion of pomo differs largely
from yours. I would make no such claims of pomo.

>and referred anyone who's interested to some appropriate readings.

And that's appreciated.

>After all the personality
>cults in the USSR and Third Reich were, surely, premodern ....

I think some might make the argument that personality cults are very
"modern" -- but again that depends on how one defines the "modern,"
"modernity," "modernism" -- still highly charged and contentious words --
to some -- although there are circles of agreement.

>Of course political action at the macro level can be disasterous (we've
>all read Popper etc) but struggles waged in the name of very modern ideals
>did (in spite of the problems with modernity) win women the vote, largely
>end colonialism,

I think the end of colonialism is up for debate -- of course again that
depends on how one defines "colonialism"

>end apartheid,

as above

>win the right to free access to education

as above

>But it also seems pretty clear that postmodernism isn't doing much for
>victims of the new holocausts (including the majority of the world's
>population that is, quite literally, getting poorer ever day).

What IS doing much for these peoples?

>doesn't mean PoMo has no role. It just means that any attempt to make it
>hegemonic or deny a space for critical theory should be resisted.

I would certainly never attempt to make such claims. Indeed I would
suggest they run counter to MY understanding of pomo.

>But, lets talk about Foucault. That's what this list is for.

See above.

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