Andy Divine’s essay of July 31, 2020 on the evolution/de-evolution of Post-Modernism, and its fellow traveler Critical Theory, leaves the reader with the realization that these conceptual and intellectual descriptions, have now been reduced to propaganda ‘catch phrases’ in the war between ‘Left’ and ‘Right’. Has Mr. Divine read any of the writers that fall under the rubrics of Post-Modern, or Critical Theory ?
Andy Divine has found his weapon of choice: ‘ Cynical reason How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody‘ by James A. Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose.
Helen Pluckrose is a liberal political and cultural writer and speaker. She is the editor of Areo Magazine and the author of many popular essays on postmodernism, critical theory, liberalism, secularism, and feminism. A participant in the Grievance Studies Affair probe, which highlighted problems in social justice scholarship, she is today an exile from the humanities, where she researched late medieval and early modern religious writing by and for women. She lives in England.
James Lindsay is a mathematician with a background in physics. He is interested in the psychology of religion, authoritarianism, and extremism and is the author of Everybody is Wrong about God. His other books include Life in Light of Death and How to Have Impossible Conversations. His essays have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Philosophers’ Magazine, Scientific American, and Time. He led the Grievance Studies Affair probe that made international headlines in 2018, including the front page of the New York Times. He lives in Tennessee.
Helen Pluckrose publishes a excerpt, of the book she co-authored, in the magazine she edits! ‘She is the editor of Areo Magazine and the author of many popular essays on postmodernism, critical theory, liberalism, secularism, and feminism.’ ‘Popular essay on Post-Modernism’ is indicative of propaganda, not scholarship.
This is the perfect opportunity for Andy Divine to appropriate this pseudo-scholarship, in his latest hysterical instalment against the ‘Left Juggernaut‘, that now rules the streets of ‘God’s Country’! Andy explains the value of the Lindsay & Pluckrose polemic.
What the book helps the layperson to understand is the evolution of postmodern thought since the 1960s until it became the doctrine of Social Justice today. Beginning as a critique of all grand theories of meaning—from Christianity to Marxism—postmodernism is a project to subvert the intellectual foundations of western culture. The entire concept of reason—whether the Enlightenment version or even the ancient Socratic understanding—is a myth designed to serve the interests of those in power, and therefore deserves to be undermined and “problematized” whenever possible. Postmodern theory does so mischievously and irreverently—even as it leaves nothing in reason’s place. The idea of objective truth—even if it is viewed as always somewhat beyond our reach—is abandoned. All we have are narratives, stories, whose meaning is entirely provisional, and can in turn be subverted or problematized.
In Andy’s narrative ‘The Post-Modern’ and ‘Critical Theory‘ are a political/ethical singularity: propaganda makes its demands. He features himself as its victim:
You have no independent existence outside these power dynamics. I am never just me. I’m a point where the intersecting identities of white, gay, male, Catholic, immigrant, HIV-positive, cis, and English all somehow collide.
But Andy is unafraid, to inform the reader, that he missed the entire career of American Philosopher/Writer Richard Rorty, even the stolid George F. Will managed to take a swipe at Rorty. Andy was too busy preening his ego, to have noticed an American Philosopher, the equal or greater successor to James or Dewey.
As usual, Andy rambles on for paragraphs, before this section reaches its end. In ‘Andy World’ brevity gets in the way of verbose propagandizing.