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govols
  • From:USA

Date Posted:23-10-2018 08:22:38Copy HTML

I'm gonna try to summarize (not criticize) postmodernism (or, as some say, postmodern neomarxism) and see if anyone here who has studied on it can verify my understanding or explain where I’m mistaken. It's really to long to read and too much to ask, but I had to get it out just to see it written down.

To figure out what the word/phrase means, as currently used by critics, one must at least go back and see where it comes from. From what I can tell it has origins in the early 20th century, and refers to “the modern world” as a time after the Enlightenment and prior to around the era between the World Wars. Philosophers were looking at the world, at the West anyway, and realizing that the industrial age, the whole structure of the “modern era,” had turned some corner. We had come to a post-modern age for which the ideas of the Enlightenment no longer functioned pragmatically on behalf of the general society. Enlightenment philosophy had brought us individualism, personal liberty, the notion that sovereignty resided in “the people” rather than kings (or even God), the idea of market forces, the scientific revolution, industrialization, and eventually the assembly line. The Enlightenment preceded and resulted in “The Modern World”—and the tools we used to build the war machines of the early 20th century. Once we put those into service we had created a new age. Not yet knowing what the new age would become, it became to (some) philosophers merely the post-modern one.

The “progressive era” in the US, developing in the mid-to-late 1800s, and growing in the early 20th century, was already established as a political reality by the time postmodernism was being realized and investigated. The world was already becoming “postmodern” as Teddy Roosevelt was trust-busting and Woodrow Wilson was theorizing the Darwinian administrative state (it had to do with government as an organism rather than a machine). Where Marx took an economic approach to pondering and explaining the impossibility of an ongoing future built on “capitalism,” the progressives were pondering on how to retain the obvious benefits of that very system while restraining the inequalities that Marx had pointed out and criticized. While Marx saw with clarity that “capitalism” was creating vast wealth and distributing poorly, he mistakenly theorized that the iniquity would result in discontent and revolution rising up within the working class. He failed to realize that “way the fuck better off than subsistence farming” would be quite grand enough for most of the masses who enjoyed the benefits of a continually rising standard of living. The revolution was NOT going to rise up from a working class that was becoming ever better fed and experiencing a far better life than generations before them. Progressive academia was realizing that if a revolution were ever to be forthcoming it would have to come from within a new ruling paradigm…by a new ruling class.

In about the 1920s, the foundations of Critical Theory where being developed. Whether we’re on the cusp of, or firmly within, the postmodern era isn’t clear. On one level we’re in it, but on another level we’re still theorizing it and at the same time organizing it. A breakthrough in theory is the reformulation of the antagonists and their portrayals. Instead of Marx’s proletariat and bourgeoisie, critical theorists have now begun to define the classification system in terms of oppressor and oppressed…and oppression/power structures. Critical Theory is formulated as a new way of doing philosophy; a new way of doing social science; a new way of doing social institutions; a new way of doing government; and through government, a new way of doing education.

Philosophy at this point begins to become a form of deconstruction. The underlying presupposition is that the structures of society have been formulated for hundreds—thousands--of years by those holding power, and are designed to maintain and further entrench their own holds on the privileges that come with power over others. The systems that allow society to function rely on privilege and power, and necessitate the existence of an underclass of oppressed masses. It’s necessary that a variety of such classes exist because part of the oppression method is to maintain a hierarchy of privilege and oppression. The newly forming critical theory is presented as an alternative manner by which society may be understood, deconstructed, and reformulated using the tools of modern psychology, sociology and the administrative powers of government. The power structures must be reconstituted in a manner consistent with an idea that emancipation is the ends through which human well-being might be achieved. Philosophy is no longer about knowing what, or knowing why, but about knowing how—how to deconstruct existing hierarchies in a way that leaves a place for new ones that are based on the well planned and just distribution of the goods and services produced by society and required by the whole of its membership whatever the status enjoyed among its individual members.

Here we get to an interesting phrase, “the long march through the institutions.” Already in place and growing in both depth and breadth, the Administrative State is slowly eclipsing the elected representative republic, entrenching a collection of experts within agencies throughout government. If any philosophical change to the structures of civilization is to be realized, the idea that the very function of administration is the emancipation of oppressed classes has to be widely held among the administrative experts. For such to become the case, curricula in every field of study would need to include aspects of critical theory, beginning with education but extending eventually into all of the humanities and sciences. The idea is that students of the oppression/privilege hierarchies would become also experts in the multitudes of endeavors governed by the Administrative State. “The long march” was basically the idea that those seeking to promote changes that would result in social justice couldn’t just sit around all being theorist; great masses of them needed to become expert in a broad cross section of industries and then go out and do those jobs. If one seeks to create justice through administrative regulation of economic institutions then one first has to be qualified for jobs within administrative agencies—experts within the professions at the tops of the hierarchies.

The above represents what I understand to be the foundations of modern “postmodern neomarxism” (as the phrase is used by critics). The critics are arguing against the modern use of “identity” to create and define “oppressed sub-classes” that can then be converged against to social structures that support and maintain “privilege groups.” Degree programs like Critical Legal Theory, the various Identity Studies programs, are the product of Critical Theory and the effort to identify as many oppression classes as possible and to identify where they intersect in an effort to promote alliances among and between them against the oppressive social constructs that have historically enforced the privileges enjoyed by the various oppressor classes. The present political environment is a war between the oppressed and supporters of the White Male Patriarchy, from one perspective (or many, I guess). From another perspective it’s a last stand against the utter deconstruction of Western Civilization.


mickeyrat Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #1
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:24-10-2018 12:52:57Copy HTML

This is a thread I wish jim would really chime in on, both as represents "postmodernism" AND "deconstructionism" both of which concepts I don't feel like I have that firm a grip on. I would say in general, though, govols, I would describe it as a mishmash term that again fits the shoe of any particular individual. It seems to be simply at 20th century of the old "pinko commie" epithet, and about as useful to tell someone "you are a postmodern neomarxist" as it would be to say, "You are a fascist".
govols Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #2
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:24-10-2018 01:04:34Copy HTML

Do you have any opinion or feel for the basic outline I put together, Mickey? 

mickeyrat Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #3
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:24-10-2018 01:18:00Copy HTML

The Enlightenment preceded and resulted in “The Modern World”—and the tools we used to build the war machines of the early 20th century. Once we put those into service we had created a new age. Not yet knowing what the new age would become, it became to (some) philosophers merely the post-modern one. I would say these were contemporaneous, not successive. This is why I have a problem with the term "postmodern", postmodern to me HAS to be in the future, can't ever be now, because now is also the modern. In the instance above, the building up of war machines was absolutely contemporaneous with their use, whether we are talking WWII or Vickers, DuPont and Krupp selling arms to both sides during the Franco-Prussian war in 1871. As to the rest of what you say, I can appreciate that yes, there are new ways of looking at the history of eras--Howard Zinn's "A People's History" set the genre, and I can see it sometimes going to far. I would agree that the administrative state appears close to the same power as the elected government, which is not something I like, I don't like the whole concept of administrative law, for example, which I think really is a way to take people out of their legal rights. So in general I do agree that there may be an overreaching of the administrative state and encroachment into areas it really shouldn't...the expansion of the bureaucracy carries that, though, as a characteristic in all places, in all times. Finally, I do think the Modern World is defined by Enlightenment values, so it is only natural that to a certain extent our educational institutions and our society in general is going to demand a worldview that puts those values ahead of others. I don't think that is necessarily some conspiracy of thought, I think it is only natural that if you're putting people in power, you want them to share your viewpoint, and these Enlightenment values are so fundamentally inculcated into most of us that that even those who think they are religious share them--hence for example Methodists being fine with abortion. But I don't see anything Marxist about this. That capitalism has its problems no one denies, if anything, since Marxism didn't work, then the answer to the excesses of capitalism is a refuge in Enlightenment values and the training of folks to rule a state in accord with those values, rather than the dialectical materialism that Marx taught.
govols Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #4
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:24-10-2018 08:22:36Copy HTML

Thanks for the feedback.

I wasn't trying to be comprehensive, but just build an outline and rough timeline of where philosophy was going, some background as to where the new directions where coming from and leading to, and some of the repercussions. I tried to go chronologically from the 20s, because that's where I found the ideas from philosophy that whatever "age" the early 20th century might be/come, it was being thought by the 20s that the West was entering a "postmodern" age. It wasn't a step from one age to a new one, be more the period in which philosophy took note that "we weren't in Kansas anymore" in relation to the Enlightenment and classical liberalism. The ideas and institutions of the Enlightenment were shifting into a “conservative” point of view--a traditionalist perspective—while progressivism was shifting into “change agent” mode. This is already a generation or two in the making by the time—in or about the 20s—“formal” philosophy was realizing the “Kansas” phenomenon was in effect.

I’m also attempting to keep myself out of this narrative and just present it as objectively as possible—just to set down the outline for confirmation or correction. The period in which we currently exist is indeed the “modern era,” but not the one the philosophers of the early 20th were considering when the phrase was being coined. The institutions we exist within are certainly a reflection of those that existed in the late 1800s, but by the 1920s progressivism was already reforming the old ones into new forms and our time also reflects those changes.

I’m not chasing down a conspiracy, but attempting to reconstruct a history. The Big Idea that was to be eventually coined Critical Theory was that philosophy needs to become the clearing house for developments in the sciences of psychology and sociology, as well as what ought to be rather than merely what is. Postmodern neoMarxism, as it is called (by some) today, is the idea that the role of academia and government is agent of prudent societal transformation rather than adventurous keeper and defender of civilization.


govols Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #5
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:24-10-2018 08:28:53Copy HTML

The Marxist I’m talking about isn’t about Capitalism. NeoMarxist is the power/oppressed replacement for the Marxist dichotomy of Capitalist/Labor. The oppression Olympics and the patriarchy are the new revolutionary battle lines that are theoretically imposed by the institutions of culture.  


That one's harder to keep "me" out of.

govols Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #6
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:27-10-2018 11:31:36Copy HTML

Back to the top, just for the hell of it.

Nickel Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #7
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:28-10-2018 12:15:22Copy HTML

It’s stuffy. Where’s the color, examples, cleverness, humor, something close to where I am, so I can follow what you want to say. I should read it two more times, but I don’t want to because words are fluid. Word meanings, connotations shift and you’re trying to nail them in place, so the labels have the same meaning throughout time. Simply say what you want with the current meaning or discard the words as useless because they have shifted beyond all reason, like women’s liberation. Don’t use Marx, post modern, or neo anything...... Bureaucracy is consistently a bad sign for any government. Administration always drains the funds from the experts. How to keep the nobility from abusing the peasants when they have sufficient money and influence to determine the outcome of elections and all the peasants want to preserve the rights to become one of the nobility....oddly enough a few kings were able to do that balancing act
Nickel Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #8
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:28-10-2018 12:16:44Copy HTML

Oh, I forgot to mention that I hate philosophy, so disregard everything I wrote.
govols Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #9
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:28-10-2018 01:18:41Copy HTML

You're on to something, Nickel, though I remain at a loss. I'm trying to understand the "sides." I'm trying to understand the "arguments." I'm tossing out how I understand it and asking for feedback.

Nickel Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #10
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:28-10-2018 03:33:50Copy HTML

One of the most offensive remarks I heard over lunch from a philosophy major who invited me was, You obviously understand what you just said and are very passionate about it, but none of it has any meaning to me. I stopped talking. Politics is like that, you get it all figured out and no one understands what you’re trying to say. They haven’t gone through the same process and it’s difficult to bring them up to speed, even when they are asking. I spent hours on the phone explaining to one constituent an issue that he was interested in and he could get it wrong in so many ways, but he was worth the time because once he fully grasped it, he translated it into the most charming and humorous presentation before the council that members of the community found irresistible. Me, of course, they didn’t like. He cried when I was not re elected, but I was relieved and on occasion ecstatic to get my life back.
Nickel Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #11
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:28-10-2018 04:05:23Copy HTML

“But I don't see anything Marxist about this. That capitalism has its problems no one denies, if anything, since Marxism didn't work, then the answer to the excesses of capitalism is a refuge in Enlightenment values and the training of folks to rule a state in accord with those values, rather than the dialectical materialism that Marx taught.” Training folks to rule...that goes back to Plato....The Republic....failed to catch on. As I was trying to imagine how it might work, firmly grounded in reality as I usually am, I completely lost faith in it, saw greater potential for corruption where he was trying to ensure incorruptibility Checks and balances is not efficient, but it works when the inevitable excesses occur..... Why do I have to google Enlightenment values? Just for the hell of it....
Nickel Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #12
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:28-10-2018 04:15:27Copy HTML

. a European intellectual movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition. It was heavily influenced by 17th-century philosophers such as Descartes, Locke, and Newton, and its prominent exponents include Kant, Goethe, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Adam Smith. Reason and individualism rather than tradition....Americans like to think of themselves as rugged individualists. How is that a refuge from the excesses of capitalism? Ah yes, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, personal computers and the tradition of IBM, room size computers for business.
Nickel Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #13
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:28-10-2018 10:43:43Copy HTML

Are you going to publish this? Guess you already have.....here. Writing it out helps me catch things I wouldn’t just thinking it through. I’m especially prone to contradictions which I try to edit out, but some slip by me. Looking at it this way and then that way sounds right, so it’s difficult to choose. I am not sure why you’re checking the meaning or your understanding since the words have different meaning at different times to different people and have to be defined as you understand them anyway. Such words are approximations ...shoot.....whole essays try to define the word, hero. In all fairness, I can’t believe I slogged through it, again. Your style with such complexity is pretty darned amazing. You did the same with another issue in a different group. It’s not a quick read, but if I slow way down it’s easy to follow, and it’s my problem that it doesn’t stay with me long enough to offer helpful feedback.
govols Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #14
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:29-10-2018 12:37:12Copy HTML

Nickel, I think you just said I bloviated, again. If you read it twice, though, damn....really?

Nickel Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #15
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:01-11-2018 09:16:56Copy HTML

LOL Have you read it? Reminds me of the guide through Ireland who asked us for a show of hands, how many had read James Joyce’s Ulysses. I was the only one who had read it. The guide said he had read it ten times, waited for the shocked expressions, then confessed each time to about page seven. A friend and I challenged each other to read what some call the world’s greatest, such self inflicted misery! She gave up half way and handed it over to her son who claimed he enjoyed it..... She and I agreed we were not Joyce’s audience and simply groan at the mention of him or his work.
govols Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #16
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:01-11-2018 11:04:18Copy HTML

Yes, I read it. I revised it once and edited it twice, believe it or not. Still got that screwed up white background in the middle somehow. It wasn't composed in the "create post" box but in word. That style of mine you referred to is what I call "blow off." I dump out a current impression and then read it back just to see if my current impression is even comprehensible. If the first draft is close enough I might post it up somewhere on the internet for feedback, or maybe copy it into Word and save it for revision or rewrite upon further reflection.

This thread is about me being in over my head. I’m amazed a couple of people bother to read it, much less contribute comments.

govols Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #17
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:05-11-2018 08:56:15Copy HTML

Not just to bump it back up, but also to play with Nickel some more...

 

So, the merely descriptive essay isn't your cup of tea, I take it. For these sorts of posts to really engage with you I have to somehow personify them? Give them some life through stories or examples. My God that would be a challenge given my introductory level of acquaintance with the topics I’m playing with. I could try doing a personal narrative like, “I was reading ‘x’ and it lead me to ‘y’ which got me thinking about ‘z’ so I…,” but then I’d have to keep notes and maybe link sources and that’s a pain in the ass. Still, I guess some effort at interesting is in order if I’m already wasting a few hours on a short paper such as the OP turned out to be. Especially if I want a few people to spend a few minutes of their own time reading and thinking about it, much less making an effort to comment.

 

I will strive for more color next time I put one of these together. Hell, it might even be fun. We'll see.


Nickel Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #18
  • From:USA

Re:Postmodern NeoMarxism: A Summary and Request for Feedback.

Date Posted:05-11-2018 09:46:18Copy HTML

LOL Yes, play with words. If you don’t enjoy reading it, why should I? Still, you are capable of taking a complex topic and making it readable, if not to any grand purpose other than your understanding. At the end you can insult your reader for having read it, but when I’ve slowed down a second reading to understand and comment it should have been for something more than I could get easily from Wikipedia. I won’t be buying your book.... My cup of tea is knowledge expressed with humor.....you really have to master a subject to express it with humor, but I settle for colorful stories, so how you went from c to g enhances the read, actually makes it more memorable. Then perhaps I’ll keep it in mind long enough to comment, unless of course you start the story at brushing your teeth, driving a car, hitting a golf ball, or some other irrelevant place instead of jumping into the river’s current. Clearly, I am not your audience, but I read it anyway.....just in case.
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