Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog

  March 31, 2013

Crisis: Marxist announcement of the death of postmodernism
"Everybody knows that truth does not exist."
-- Prof. M. Brands opening the academic year 1978, on the authority of the Board of Directors of the University of Amsterdam
"Yet, it was finally the economic collapse of 2008, and nothing as strictly “discursive” or “symbolic” as a US Presidential election, that finally marked the theoretical end of postmodernism’s sway over academic thought."
-- Journal of Communist Theory and Practice, 2013.


















Sections
Introduction   
1. A marxist announcement of the death of postmodernism
About ME/CFS


Introduction:

The last two days I wrote about Sheldon Wolin, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald and linked texts and videos by them, and the days before that I wrote about Stalinism in Holland, since I come from a Dutch communist family.

There were quite a few downloads, and I therefore added a P.S. to my Nederlog of March 29, and decided to do a search for
postmodernism and the left, because at least in academia most leftists turned postmodernistic from the early seventies onwards, which to me always seemed both intellectually and morally moronic - but then my revolutionary generation of pseudo-revolutionary pseudo-marxists turned postmodern in the 1970ies "knew" precisely what one like me, who doubted their motives and intellect in public, "must" be: "A fascist" and "a terrorist", and eventually removed me as a student from the faculty of philosophy of the University of Amsterdam, briefly before being able to take my M.A. there, because of the questions I posed publicly "in spite of your illness, that we take quite serious", as the Board of Directors of the University of Amsterdam assured me in writing, in case I had missed they were not only thieves of millions of guilders, but also sick sadists.

Anyway... today there is a little about postmodernism, since I did a search, and found a very recent piece on a site that is so marxist that its logo Marx bearded head, that also moved me to find this icon, that illustrates the progressive triumph of the safety razor:

MELS

My subject is, accordingly:

1.  A marxist announcement of the death of postmodernism

The site I found this announcement on calls itself "Insurgent Notes - Journal of Communist Theory and Practice", and sports Marx's bearded head as icon, while the text is dated Mar 11, 2013, by one Michael Rectenwald, and has the title
You'll find it under the link, and I quote some from it, mostly for the benefit of my readers, and to illustrate that I have not been making things up, as "a fascist" and "a terrorist", who was ignominiously removed from the University of Amsterdam, then ruled by postmodernistic marxists and feminists and thieving careerists from Dutch Labour.

The article - which is not bad, if some 40 years late, which may not be the writer's fault - starts as follows:
Over the past fifty years, postmodern theory—an umbrella term generally used to refer to such diverse theoretical movements and paradigms as post-structuralism, Lacanian psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and others—has generally dominated most fields in the humanities and some in the social sciences, while even making forays into the natural sciences. But the economic meltdown in 2008 and the subsequent chronic crisis in capitalism have dealt a fatal theoretical blow to the varied and nearly ineffable assemblage of perspectives that are often grouped under the rubric of “postmodernism.”
The most comprehensive reference for the things mentioned in this paragraph in Nederlog is this, from October 2010:
but apart from this my readers are on their own. The reason for the collapse of postmodernism is not surprising in marxist circles: "It's the economy, stupid!" [1]:
The financial collapse of 2008 demonstrated that language itself, or the “symbolic register” in postmodern parlance, could not by itself contain the entirety of social reality. In fact, the manipulation of the “symbolic realm” in the stock market, in particular in the real estate sector, had resulted in real material consequences that had spun out of the reaches and control of language itself.
Personally, I do not think so, though I agree reality kicked the postmodernists in the groin, and hopefully killed them. But I do not think this explains the rise or the demise of postmodernism: The rise was due to a combination of low intelligence, careerism and dishonesty in those who helped it and their own careers rise towards hegemony (a favorite term of the power-obsessed dimwit careerists who are postmodernists); the fall is very probably due to various causes, of which an important one is that one can no longer expect to make academic careers with it. That is: it is no longer profitable, and it also does not help one gain academic power and status anymore.

But I agree that it is also true that the real facts, and notably the
crisis that erupted in 2008, showed - perhaps even to postmodern intellects - that not everything is "narrative" or public relations, as the postmodernists believed or pretended to believe (it being an interesting coincidence that is not often noted that postmodernism and public relations are much alike: relativist, power-related, offering "narratives", discounting truth and reality, depending on propaganda, concerned with making lots of money with deception, manipulating consent, and more).

How did postmodernism come to be? Mr Rectenwald knows his and their backgrounds:
One must begin by mentioning the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, where the strange bedfellows of high modernism and Marxist theory combined—at least where Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer were concerned—to produce a critique of Enlightenment rationality itself. This critique arguably inaugurated the “postmodern turn” and its attack on the Enlightenment project en toto—on reason, on the universal project of human emancipation, and on such “master narratives” (particularly Marxism) that sought to explain and address the social totality.
I think Mr Rectenwald is right here: Adorno and Horkheimer and the Frankfurter Schule and later Habermas played an important role in transforming old-fashioned academic marxism and leftism, that were science-oriented, realistic and believed in the existence of a language-independent truth and reality, into a pretentious scheme of posturing to the effect that all is relative and that there is nothing but text and "narratives", that form the hallmarks of postmodernism.

To illustrate that point:
With the “linguistic turn” of deconstruction, the radical disjuncture from social reality becomes even more pronounced. With deconstruction, for example, such ideas as “truth” and “history” do not exist outside of language, if at all. As Jacques Derrida wrote in Of Grammatology (1967), “there is nothing outside of text.”
According to Mr Rectenwald, something could have been seen to be rotten even before 2008 (isn't that amazing?!): While The Economy exploded in the faces of postmodernist careerists in 2008, elementary mathematics did so in 2000:
The crisis of postmodernist epistemology was in evidence well before 2008, however. It was discernible in the aftermath of the 2000 US Presidential election. Given its adherence to radical epistemological pluralism and relativism, how could the academic left, such as those who had been recently embroiled in the “Science Wars,” argue for an objective recount of ballots in the contest between the two ruling-class candidates, Al Gore and George W. Bush in Florida? The social constructivists could not come to the aid of their favorite, because they had long argued that all knowledge claims were mere constructs of ideology or language, or that observation could not but be utterly saturated in “theory-ladenness”—that is, that no observation could escape the theoretical prejudices of the observer. Science and its products were social constructs “all the way down.”
Mr Rectenwald writes as if professor Sokal, who is not mentioned by name in his text, never existed and never wrote a fairly conclusive and explosive hoax even before the turn of the millenium, but I agree that there also were postmodern problems with Bush Jr.'s election: If all of mathematics and all of science is merely relative, the US elections cannot be falsified: "Everybody knows that truth does not exist", as was taught for more than 20 years in the postmodernist neo-marxist University of Amsterdam (and at many other centres of postmodern narration and careerism, where students were systematically deprived of their rigth on a real scientific education).

But as far as Mr Rectenwald is concerned, postmodernism was done in by - one must assume - the capitalist bankmanagers, rather than by any rational thought in any university, where indeed it was very difficult to get tenure, or even to study, in the heighdays of the postmodern terror. As I quoted above:

Yet, it was finally the economic collapse of 2008, and nothing as strictly “discursive” or “symbolic” as a US Presidential election, that finally marked the theoretical end of postmodernism’s sway over academic thought.

As I pointed out, things seem to me to be a little more complicated than that, but it is true there is little hope for more postmodern academic jobs, since 2008, since 2000, and perhaps even since the unmentionable Sokal Hoax for those with minds of their own.

In any case, Mr. Rectenwald ends his moral tale on a moral note - and I agree that the pomo days were a sick and sickening tragi-comedy in which everyone lost  (especially students!) and all relevant moral and scientific values were betrayed - all for the benefit of one small class of persons: Those who gained careers, power and status with the atrocious bullshit that is postmodernism:

And, like the financial collapse, postmodernism was indeed tragedy. It was tragedy for the massive amounts of “cultural capital” that it wasted; it was tragedy for the defrauding of intellectual integrity that it represented; it was tragedy for the abandonment of reality that it recommended. Further, like the financial fiasco, it was criminal. The postmodernist ringleaders should be indicted as as the ideological counterparts of Wall Street’s thieves, as the “junk bond traders” and “corporate raiders” of culture, as Camille Paglia once referred to them.

Except for these final processions and prosecutions, however, the era of postmodernism—the last gasp of “credible” philosophical idealism—is theoretically, and effectively, over.

I sincerely do hope so - and those who want to know the subject in its full awesomeness should consult 

which is a delicious bit of computerized satire written in the previous millenium, that one may fairly suspect to have been the basis of quite a few Ph.D.s in linguistics, Eng.Lit., psychology, sociology and related fields, because as the final lines of The postmodernism generator explains

This installation of the Generator has delivered 8549365 essays since 25/Feb/2000 18:43:09 PST, when it became operational.

More detailed technical information may be found in Monash University Department of Computer Science Technical Report 96/264: “On the Simulation of Postmodernism and Mental Debility Using Recursive Transition Networks”.
And one can be sure of one thing about postmodernists: If they were not 100% fraudulent, they were moved by mental debility. Then again, hundreds if not thousands made very remunerative careers - "It's the economy, stupid!" - with bullshit, lies and posturing between 1970 and 2013, just in Holland alone, where the species still thrives, e.g. around the journal "Krisis", internet home of the academically arrived heavily sponsored utter and total Dutch philosophical frauds. [2]
----------------------------------
Notes

[1] Aka "historical materialism" in marxist circles: The notion that, in the end, everything in human society depends on and is based on the economical relations between people (master and slave, serf and lord, worker and capitalist).

[2] The members of its Editorial Board collectively make millions from the Dutch tax money, each year - but even so, I quote their most insistent several times repeated plea:
"In order to keep the reading of this journal free of charge, we would appreciate your support, either by donation or by advertisement."
And not only does its editorial board receive millions each year from the Dutch taxes:
"Krisis is financially supported by the Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Department of Philosophy, Maastrucht University. The digital archive was supported by the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund."
Greed, greed, greed, and more impertinent greed, combined with dishonesty, stupidity and posturing.


About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate
search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)


       home - index - summaries - mail