History Bite

What is the Origin of Post-Modern Thought?

What is at the heart of our cultural erosion? What is defeating the rule of law? What has happened to our foundation, our traditions, our social norms?  Numerous influences are at play but one of the most potent is the advance of post-modern ideology.

This essay seeks only to address the history and basic concept of the ideological movement responsible for reshaping not only American culture but effectively all of western civilization.  Why is post-modernism such a formidable threat?  The self-proclaimed deconstructive philosophy is antithetical to western philosophy and literally destructive to the American vision for how best man shall live.

In the late 1960s and early ‘70s, a legitimate intellectual problem surfaced across multiple disciplines:  Is it not true that all intellectual and material phenomena can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways and, if this is true, how can humans assign certain interpretations as superior to others?  For example, to illustrate in literature, one may interpret a word by itself or within a phrase or within a paragraph, a chapter or even the full context of the work.  Then, the reader may be interpreting alone, or in a classroom or in a club. The environment shapes the interpretation and therefore there is nothing true or objective about the text.  The entire experience is artificially shaped by the socially constructed situation. Therefore, no interpretation of the word, or the text is “right” or superior to any other.  Upon this fundamental critique, post-modern intellectuals launch a frontal attack of skepticism on the entire western philosophy which has found its roots in the discoveries of the Enlightenment.

For example, the Enlightenment advanced the idea of objective natural reality– meaning there is a reality whose properties exist independently of human beings. For example, the tree in your yard is objectively real- you can touch it, someone else may see it, it may be photographed and its absence suggests that it is not in objective reality.   Post-modernists say no, “objective reality” is a conceptual construct established by science, language and social structures.  There is no such thing as objective truth.  It is along these lines, they also dismiss the concept of human nature as defined by the proposition that some traits, aptitudes and dispositions are innate in human beings at birth.  Post-modernists firmly insist that nearly all aspects of human psychology and behavior are socially determined. 

Post-modernists do not believe that reason and logic have been instrumental in advancing human progress nor are they universally valid tools.  Reason and logic are merely conceptual constructs which are only valid within their established intellectual traditions (in this case, western civilization).  Science and technology are treated with the same skepticism and are not considered tools to change societies for the better and do not possess inherent validity beyond their societal framework. This presumption is exemplified in the concept of gender fluidity.  If science and biology are arbitrary social constructs and there is no natural reality or objective truth then it follows that there is no category of “man” or “woman.”  Post-modernists celebrate this supreme intellectual achievement as truly liberating the individual to be free from biological determinism or other socially contrived norms.

As post-modernists debunk the presumed achievements of the Enlightenment and dismiss the foundation on which western philosophy rests, one might ask, on what foundation then does post-modern philosophy rest?  The post-modernists echo the fundamentals of marxism grasping the idea that interests, values and behaviors of each generation are determined by its ruling class.  With all reality being arbitrary and untethered from any objective truth or foundation, the conclusion is that all people interpret and act upon the world in a way that facilitates their acquisition of power.  All human motivation is incited by a drive for power.  Therefore, the desire of post-modern advocates is to deconstruct the fundamentals of western civilization on the premise that this is a construct intended to keep certain groups in power (white males specifically) leaving all other groups oppressed and dispossessed. Instead of defining the power struggle as antagonism between the aristocracy and the working class as in marxism, post-modernism defines the oppressor and the oppressed by race, gender, age, religion, etc.. (what we now know as “identity politics”).  In order to “level the playing field” so to speak, the entire social, cultural, traditional, historical foundation must be deconstructed- and the success of this effort will finally liberate the sovereign individual to live as he wishes.

There is a refute to post-modern theory. This is only the precipice of the rabbit hole. More to follow.