Postmodernism is not a thing

In my experience pretty much only reactionaries use the term “postmodernism”, more often abbreviated “pomo”, unironically. That term gets thrown around as if it was actually an argument or defusing someone else’s argument.
The “critique” of “postmodernism” is purely reactionary in nature, because it’s essentially only saying “well, this is new and it undermines what I built my sense of self (and superiority) on, so I’m going to ridicule it like the catholic church ridiculed the idea of heliocentrism”. Any “critic” of “postmodernism“ deems themselves the epitome of rationality and a warped understanding of “science”, often bordering on scientism.

THIS is actual postmodernism

Postmodernism is not *a* thing. It only has an actual meaning in certain areas, e.g. in the arts or architecture, but not regarding philosophical, political or sociological topics. As an era, it simply denotes what comes after modernism, which would actually include any potential reader alive now, but it’s arguably never used as self-criticism. In other areas, it’s a categorization that is way too broad, too vague to be of any use, especially since I’ve yet to come across someone who self-identifies with postmodernism. So when, on a topic concerning the latter, a critique of “postmodernism” is made, it means nothing.

It’s really a term that was created mostly out of the need to give a name to a broad and arbitrary variety of things and ideas one wants to criticize in one fell swoop. Ironically that is actually used to do what “critics” of “postmodernism” accuse “postmodernists” and that is to shut down people and ideas by associating them with that term and then applying a flat criticism to it as if it was a uniform and cohesive thing. It’s essentially just one giant straw man. Arguing as if there was an actual thing called “postmodernism” or anyone that could speak in its name and on its behalf that could make a statement is highly irrational. And since no one self-identifies as postmodernist, one can just assign whoever argues in a way one doesn’t like to postmodernism, apply the boilerplate blanket criticism of choice and pat oneself on the back for being smart and enlightened. And that’s simply not rational in any meaningful way.

It’s also noteworthy that the claim to make a rational argument is putting forth the notion that anyone criticizing that argument must be inherently irrational. So it’s the claim to rationality, that is actually dogmatic and ideological (again something “postmodernism” is widely accused of), demanding to be taken at face value and not questioned. This also manifests in the phenomena that people clinging to this fraud notion of rationality make the paradoxical claim, that they can dismiss something flat-out if they think they found any fault in it, even if that fault is at best tertiary and not relevant to the premise, or by attacking and dismissing the author based on purely speculative conjecture, yet scream bloody murder if someone declines to engage with and address every single word or statement made by them. Again, in its lack of reflection and self-awareness, a fundamentally irrational behavior, which is always on display when someone tries to use “postmodernism” as an argument.

I have debated way too many self-proclaimed rationalists, devout marxists, full-on reactionaries and others that follow this reactionary and ridiculous notion of what’s “rational” and the ink clouds they hide in when criticized, seem well summarized in this quote, which was thrown at me once:

“In recent years, rationality has been an object of particular criticism.
The claim has been put forth that rationality is biased because it is a
class-based or male or Western or whatever notion. Yet it is part of
rationality to be intent on noticing biases, including its own, and controlling
and correcting these. (Might the attempt to correct for biases
itself be a bias? But if that is a criticism, from what quarter does it
come? Is there a view that holds that bias is bad but that correcting it
is bad too? If it is held to be impossible to eliminate bias, then in what
sense does charging bias constitute a criticism? And would such impossibility
mean that there is some one particular bias that is intrinsically
resistant to elimination or just that not all biases can be eliminated
- Nozick, Nature of Rationality

This is in its entirety nothing but a strawman. It’s all based on Plato’s logocentrism, the concept that all things are named appropriately and that names of things and the things themselves are identical. This whole notion is rather ridiculous, as if naming a thing was the same as understanding the thing — or proof that the name denotes an actually existing thing — but that’s the legacy of Plato that the western hegemony still can’t see beyond and which stifled its philosophy and philosophical concepts ever since. Criticism of “rationality” and the logocentrism it is based on also includes that it’s all based on the unproven (and, just like “god”, not falsifiable) premise that our primate brains are capable of recognizing and mentally processing “absolute truth”.

The criticism of the western hegemonial understanding of rationality, that the quote most likely refers to, does not say that bias is impossible to eliminate, but that it is pretty much impossible to eliminate it, if you dismiss any perspective other than your own or those similar to it. Again it’s simple confirmation bias that essentially says that anything that is not part of one’s perceptive does not exist or is not valid, precisely because it’s not part of one’s perception/perspective. And that becomes self-referential reasoning (which is again something that “postmodernism” is criticized for) and pure dogmatism, as only those sources are considered valid criticism of the perspective that come from within the perspective, making it impossible to get an outside look on the perspective, as that would be a different perspective and as such not a valid source of criticism. And from that comes the claim that one is open to criticism and always looking to correct their biases, but at the same time dismisses all criticism as invalid/irrational, concluding that, as no valid criticism has been brought forward, one must be right/rational. And that’s not only completely irrational and fraud, it’s reactionary 101, where the intent does not follow consideration and reasoning, but reasoning follows intent.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Cat Harsis

Cat Harsis

Just a polynary person (they/them) trying to make sense of the world and share their insights. @ purecatharsis on Facebook/Instagram, @puRRcatharsis on twitter