How the Infection of Postmodernism is Now Killing Its Designers

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Tue, Dec 16 - 9:00 am EDT | 2 years ago by
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    This being the first column of a new series here on EveryJoe entitled “Riposte Modernism,” I thought it appropriate that we talk about the nemesis of modern civilization. De Toqueville had famously said that the United States would never fall to an outside foe, but could only die by suicide; really, he should have extended his claim to mean all of western civilization. The suicide in question is more like an infection, a kind of cancer that turns its intelligentsia against itself; we’re talking of course about postmodernism.

    Riposte Modernism

    Now first and foremost, I want to make it clear that I’m not a bog-standard conservative. I am that most dangerous of maniacs: I have no sense of allegiance whatsoever to American Party Politics (indeed, I’m not even American!), and I’m an absolutely shameless social libertine. I believe above all in the absolute freedom and thus the absolute responsibility of the individual. I also happen to believe that the essential guard to that freedom is a just and civilized society founded on the concept of inalienable rights, and dedicated to progress for everyone. You can’t have freedom, equality, or the opportunity for prosperity (i.e., the “pursuit of happiness”) for all people if you don’t have a foundation based on the ethics of rational thought in the analysis of truth.

    Recently, I have been hearing some left-wingers whine about the amorality of the leadership of American Conservatism; more specifically, they were talking about how American conservatism’s leadership is amoral, in essence believing that they don’t have to follow any kind of rules of proper conduct anymore, and that things like truth don’t matter.

    I think there’s a legitimate point in that claim, somewhere. And it’s been developing for some time. However, I also think that the fault of this, the blame for where a situation where this can exist, is squarely on the intellectual Left.

    First, let’s look at the facts: the kind of relativism that leads people, particularly people who want power (and what politician doesn’t?), to feel that they can just manufacture whatever truth they want is something that has affected both of the major political parties in the United States (and most other countries in the western world too, for that matter). They use different terminology for it, but there’s no question they’re both infected with this notion. The Left, and the Democratic party as part of the Left, talk about “narratives.” The neo-conservatives on the Right (and excepting a few crackpots and a tiny handful of idealists, most of the leadership of the Republican party are neo-cons, whether they admit it or not) are at least more honest about it. Who can forget George W. Bush’s government blatantly talking about how they can ‘create their own reality’? They did that most openly with their ultimately faulty ventures into Middle-Eastern military engagement, but it was just as much of a feature of their economic policy (real conservatives in the United States desperately need to come to terms with the fact that there hasn’t been a real capitalist, as opposed to corporatist, economic policy in either party for a very long time).

    But this all conceals one important detail: that in spite of all their outrage at the utter amorality of some of the American Right, this is a situation the Left has created for itself by embracing relativism and making it so acceptable in our society. They created a monster, and now it will devour them (and maybe all of us), because while they thought that a relativistic world would somehow work to their “progressive” advantage, the reality of relativism is that it will ultimately enable psychopaths to rule, and for the brutal and ruthless to abuse or oppress the weak.

    In a relatively recent post on grist.org, there was a link to a series of tweets that tried to point out how conservatism has now embraced postmodernism. Yes, tweets; possibly the dumbest medium of communication for anything serious in history. How stupidly hipster is that? But what can you do? If there’s one still-significant difference between the supposedly intellectual Left and the supposedly intellectual Right it’s that the former is absolutely desperate to be fashionable, to the point of absurdity.

    In any case, the tweets themselves (ignoring the idiocy of the medium) are shocking but ringing of truth. The first instinct of a conservative might be to try to deny it, but the fact is that for a long time now the leadership of the Right in the western world has embraced the same poisonous concept: postmodernism, in a nutshell, discards the concept that there even is some kind of absolute truth that we should try to approach. Instead, it argues, liberated from the confines of the evil and authoritarian need to actually prove truth, you now have the power to create a narrative out of your semantic argument.

    Put in plainer terms: if you can create a set of words, put them together into a semantic argument, you can define anything as anything. You can say (as the tweets point out) that an apple is in fact an orange; it doesn’t matter whether that’s “true” or not because there’s no such thing as truth, and instead all that matters is that you be able to argue it often enough and well enough that it gets accepted by enough people to create a ‘reality bubble’. Its magical thinking of the worst kind applied on a cultural scale. And coupled with the deconstructionist ideal that was embraced by the baby-boomer generation (which, again in a nutshell, argues that any kind of Authority is Inherently Illegitimate, that trying to claim any kind of hierarchy, be it in institutions or in the very nature of scholarship, is inherently a form of abuse over overs), this ultimately means that in the post-modern world you can not only claim that an apple is actually an orange, but that no one has the right to say that you’re wrong; if they try, they’re “oppressing” you.

    It doesn’t matter if they try to argue from a logical perspective, a scientific perspective (pointing out the ways that “apples” and “oranges” are different biological substances), a moral perspective, or from an appeal to tradition; nor does it even matter if the person trying to argue with you is the world’s foremost academic authority on oranges with over 30 years of studies on citrus fruits while you haven’t ever actually so much as seen an orange in your life, there’s just no one in the post-modern world who has any inherent authority to tell you that whatever you pull out of your backside isn’t correct.

    The only marker of whether an idea should succeed or fail in these circumstances, according to the postmodernists, isn’t whether it is objectively true or not (because to them, nothing is), but only whether or not it is semantically successful. If you can argue it loudly or strongly enough, if you can control language to enforce your worldview on others, then you win.

    Of course, what this does in practice is destroy the entire intellectual, political, civil, and moral foundations of western civilization, as surely as a cancer would slowly eat away at its victim’s internal organs. If you can’t make any kind of argument to oppose any nonsense any random idiot decides is right, be it from a logical, scientific, moral, or historical perspective, then this means that western civilization’s pillars of logical/rational thinking, science, moral philosophy, and even its history and culture (with all of its branches, including the arts and the education system, two of the earliest victims of postmodernism) will utterly collapse.

    And now we find ourselves in the darkly amusing situation where, with the right-wing having started to embrace this same kind of post-modern worldview, suddenly the Left feels outraged and worried about this! Oh, the irony!

    I can’t imagine the left-wingers angry about U.S. Conservatives’ manipulation of truth, where (to quote David Roberts) “epistemology becomes competing tantrums,” don’t realize that this is a direct consequence of the philosophical foundations laid down by Foucault, the darling of the Pseudo-Intellectual Left, right?

    If you keep saying “there’s no such thing as true or false, right or wrong, there’s only personal narratives that can only be forced or defended by Semantics,” you are arguing for the intellectual equivalent of “Might-Makes-Right.” And the problem with that is that this philosophy very rarely favors the weak, the poor, minorities, etc., for very long.

    The Left kept telling the Right that their ideas about Truth or Morals didn’t mean anything and were equally valid as anyone’s opinion. That all authority was inherently illegitimate. That rules were for squares, man; and that we could create our own reality. And sure, the Left had an idea of trying to force a hippie-wonderland reality of being “Nice”, “tolerant”, of helping minorities, etc. But they had no intellectual or moral basis for these ideas, because they believe in nothing. Their principle was that it was their opinion that we should be nice, their “narrative” of how we should be to each other, and they bet the whole farm on their certainty that they could control Language (Semantics) in such a way as to run circles around the old dumb right-wingers who stupid enough still actually believe in stuff.

    Now we have people running the Right (not the ones at the base, but the elites of the Right) who have figured out the game, and been absorbed into the postmodernist paradigm; so they suddenly don’t believe in Truth either. The problem is, their Narrative of being Complete Psychopaths In It For Themselves is a stronger Semantic Weapon than the liberal-douchebag narrative of being snide but ineffective whiners.

    It was the same reason more than one hippie commune failed: as soon as you say “there are no rules, we can all do our own thing and rap it out, brother!”, the guy who’s going to win from that is the asshole who is best at being the most manipulative.

    Sooner or later, postmodernism leads to barbarism. It leads to a world that is the opposite of civilized: where you have no ability to stand up and say “this is wrong” for any objective reason. You can claim “this is wrong because I really, really feel like it’s wrong”, but who cares? If someone else doesn’t feel it’s wrong to bash their neighbor’s brains out and take their stuff, you have no objective or absolute basis by which to oppose them. This is why the Left proves terribly ineffectual against both amoral psychopaths (who don’t care if other people live or die so long as they personally get ahead), and against dangerous fanatics (like religious extremists from other parts of the world who still believe in things strongly enough to kill or die for them).

    In its end-game, postmodernism inevitably moves out of the world of semantics and into the world of brute violence, because there’s no rational basis by which postmodernism can oppose violence. Authority – of the intellectual or of the political/social variety – can be misused and abused to harm or oppress the weak; but what these morons didn’t figure out is that if you remove Authority altogether, you also remove any authority to protect the rights of the weak. No more philanthropy, no more “noblesse oblige,” no more firmly-held principles of truths-worth-dying-for that guarantee inalienable rights to all humanity. All you are left with, on the Left or Right, is a world where the strongest and most powerful get to impose their “reality” on everyone.

    Kasimir Urbanski doesn’t write on a specific subject; he’s EveryJoe’s resident maniac-at-large. A recovering Humanities academic and world-traveler, he now lives in South America and is a researcher of fringe religion, eastern philosophy, and esoteric consciousness-expansion. In his spare time he writes tabletop RPGs, and blogs about them at therpgpundit.blogspot.com.

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      • storygamer

        In your opinion, can perfidious postmodernism be countered with rune magic?

        • Ron Edwards

          And in the affirmative case, can I use the same rune you used against the Uruguayan power company, or does it have to be a different one?

          Oh, in case Everyjoe readers are unaware, YO PUNDIT IS A WIZARD YOU GUYS, FOR REALSIES.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Oh no, there you are impersonating RPG celebrities again.

          F*ck yeah I’m a wizard for real. They’ll see soon enough!

        • tuypo1

          i always imagined you as more of a planeshifter im pretty sure the planeshifter title overrides wizard

        • Tarnowski’d with a broad brush

          More like “blameshifter” amirite

      • Big Al G

        Oh Moldbug! Was it Jean-Francois Lyotard or Leo Strauss who got more out of Aleister Crowley?

        • Castellan of Cracow

          REPOST: I think you just outed yourself as either an occultist, a postmodernist, a neocon or all three, SWINE. But it raises the fantastic point of tying a nice bow around my primary concerns (Strauss on the art of “esoteric” writing, roleplaying games, ritual magic), so thanks.

          Who or what is a “moldbug?”

      • Zak S

        Asshole.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          The real Zak S., eminent RPG author and artist (for RPGs and in general), and a colleague with whom I frequently chat, just confirmed to me that this was not him. If he wants to call me an asshole, he does it to my face. Identity theft is pretty pathetic, but that’s pretty much the only card these guys have to play.

        • storygamer

          Link to Zak Smith referring to RPGPundit as an asshole:

          http://ask.fm/TheActualZakSmith/answer/121465583330

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Yeah, we’ve both called each other assholes. Doesn’t change the fact that he’s a colleague, and that the poster above wasn’t him. And that all of you guys are coming from the same place, chit-chatting about how to strategize on ‘taking me down’.

          Please carry on, though. The more comments I get here the more popular you’ll all make me.

        • storygamer

          So you admit you were wrong when you wrote “If he wants to call me an asshole, he does it to my face.”

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          No, that’s exactly what we both do to each other. But it’s really hilarious that you guys think you can somehow manipulate us.

        • storygamer

          So the statement “If he wants to call me an asshole, he does
          it to my face” is correct even though the link above proves otherwise.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          You can keep repeating that to cover up your fraud as much as you like. The point is that Zak S was not the one who posted HERE, he was impersonated by people acting in bad faith to try to ‘get me’, and ironically proving my point about the amorality of post-modernism in the process.

        • storygamer

          I have committed no fraud. I did not leave the Zak S comment.

          You made a statement. I supplied evidence proving that the statement is false.

          The point is that you have a pathological aversion to admitting even an inconsequential mistake.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          You and the rest of the people on the site that’s attacking me here committed the fraud. What the real Zak S thinks or doesn’t think is irrelevant, because the point is that the above is not him. You all have a pathological obsession with crying bitter tears over my success.

        • storygamer

          I have committed no fraud. You are making false accusations. What the real Zak S said (see above link) is relevant because it disproves a statement you made.

        • tuypo1

          a: he is not accusing you of fraud he is accusing your group of fraud

          jeez im fucking autistic and i could tell that (although to be fair i used to take everything really literally when i was younger and it did take a lot of work for me to improve) but still you dont deserve to have anybody think it was an honest mistake because your an arsehole

          b: it does not disprove anything he did not mean it is literally always in person he meant he would not do it as a guest he would not try and seek deniability

          c:tying back into a under some definitions been an accessory to a crime makes you guilty of that crime

        • storygamer

          Hi tuypo1,

          I assumed that when Mr. Urbanski used “you” he was including
          me. Guilt by Association is a logical fallacy. By embracing a logical fallacy Mr. Urbanski is being intellectually dishonest. This is strange behavior for the author of the above article.

          If Mr. Urbanski does not mean what he says, he should have the ability to explain what he does mean. In fact since he is an accomplished author and champion of truth, I’m certain he has the ability.

          Happy holidays

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          You’re just a pathetic little sophist, aren’t you? Well, one of the gang, after all.

        • storygamer

          Actually, you’re the one using a fallacious argument. Perhaps you should call yourself RPGSophist.

        • tuypo1

          complaining about fallacys is a sign of a weak arguer

          oh well at least your not bitching about ad homonyms i fucking hate it when people do that they rarely use it right

        • storygamer

          I’m not complaining. I’m just pointing it out. Sorry, but I didn’t
          realize fallacies are an acceptable form of argument on your planet.

        • tuypo1

          they are when the person you are arguing with is arguing a stupid point

          if its a respectable view that you disagree with you should act nice but otherwise fuck you

        • storygamer

          On my planet, smart people just ignore stupid points. They’re no excuse for bad manners.

          BTW, have you found the conspiracy plans yet?

        • tuypo1

          ah i love the way Christmas can bring even enemy together and a merry Christmas to you fucker

      • Hordak Lucifuego

        I made it almost through the third paragraph — anyone beat that?!?

      • GOP Pagan

        Relax. This is nothing a frozen horsedick up the bumhole can’t solve. BY THE HAMMER OF THOR I SHALL MAKE IT SO!

      • Rogerian

        If one disregards the (largely irrelevant) references to the author’s own political leanings, it seems that the author merely restates the case made at gristr.org while simultaneously attacking David Roberts’ choice of medium for making the case in the first place. I cannot help but wonder if the article would have benefited from being purged of the (again, rather irrelevant) hyperbole that the author engages in, as well as the strange attempts at discrediting the writing styles of the writer that the ideas being presented originate from. Perhaps this is not to be completely unexpected from someone who has a history of denigrating the work of authors who they simultaneously plagiarise.

      • Kasimir Urbanski

        Aww, look at all the jealous little YDIS people, showing up here under false and sometimes stolen identities to try to slander and insult in their own particular idiotic way. Cry, cry your impotent tears of rage, little losers. I win again.

        If I have enemies, good. It means I stand for something.

        • Great Gaygax’s Ghost!!!

          You sure do. You stand for being a self-important douchenozzle. Takes a special kind of turdburglar to congratulate himself on writing for a clickbait portal.

        • Great Gaygax’s Ghost!!!

          Oh, and you can quit the “Kasimir Urbanski” act, Tarnowski. Your cover’s been blown for the better part of a decade now.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Aww, so now it’s a “clickbait portal”, is it? Well, I guess that shows the regular readers of EveryJoe what you whiny f*cks really think of them.

          Plus, remind me what kind of special turdburgler it takes to obsess themselves for the better part of a decade with someone who ‘writes to a clickbait portal’, to the point of reading everything that person has ever written in a desperate attempt to ‘take him down’, unlawfully impersonating people to try to fraudulently attack him, making up lies, posting information about their personal life (but wait, don’t you guys think that’s History’s Greatest Evil when its used against your own side? Isn’t that ‘harassment’ and ‘threats’? How conveniently post-modernist of you that when someone does it to you it’s criminal ‘threat’ and ‘harassment’ but when you decide to do it to someone else in an attempt to silence them it’s just ‘truth’-telling), all of this stalkerish behaviour for someone you’re trying to prove is irrelevant?

          Either you’re the world’s most pathetic asshole, or you’ve just proven how influential what I’m doing really is. Your call, daisy.

      • James Maliszewski

        I didn’t read this article, but the sidebar linked to “Miss Bum Bum Brazil Candidate Nearly Arrested” so the click was worth it. Thank you, and God bless.

      • Mike Mearls

        If everyone reading this donates just a dollar to Pundit Patronage, John Tarnowski can purchase soup through the New Year, and maybe even have the holes in his socks mended. Let’s make it happen people!

      • Michael M.

        I think the article is a good start and I think the overall point is true. If it is lacking anything it is concrete example of this behavior. I might suggest that a future article be focused upon a case study of how this behavior turns a constructive debate into a shrill infantile shout match.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Oh, there will be such articles, I guarantee it. This was an introduction to what will be ONE of the running themes of my writing here on EveryJoe.

          Thank you for your comment!

      • Kasimir Urbanski

        For those of you unfamiliar with my RPG writing, I should explain that the people who are currently trying to sabotage the comments section are ‘goons’, who don’t like the things I have to say about RPGs on my blog. They’re also using false identities (Mike Mearls, James M, etc., are all figures of varying fame in the tabletop RPG hobby but they are definitely NOT the ones actually posting any of this tripe below). In a way, they’re providing a perfect case study for my argument above: the way that post-modernism allows people like these guys to lie, cheat, fabricate anything they want in order to (pathetically and impotently) attempt to “take me down”. Because it doesn’t matter whether you are being truthful or honorable or fair or not, if truth is relative then if you FEEL strongly enough that someone is the ‘bad guy’, you are entitled to lie, cheat or steal in order to get them. You’re allowed to be dishonest or crooked or manipulative or slanderous because “truth” doesn’t really matter, and its a ‘kind of truth’ that your opponent is ‘bad’ anyways and therefore needs to be stopped even by dishonest means.

        That’s what post-modernism reduces us to. In its crudest form, its these idiots and their slack-jawed efforts at flinging feces at me out of envy at my success. In more sophisticated manifestations it involves high-level fabrication of outright lies for whatever one believes to be the ‘greater cause’ (of imposing your ‘narrative’ on the world, since that narrative is in essence the only closest thing to the truth that you can have under post-modernism).

        • Your Pal GrimJim

          People should definitely stand behind their real names John Tarnowski of Montevideo Uruguay.

        • ConcernedCitizen

          Your understanding of postmodernism appears to have been gleaned merely from overheard conversations and your own mangled prejudices. You don’t mention a single postmodernist thinker or engage with their ideas, but seem to have bizarrely conflated postmodernism with some sort of vulgar, half-baked American liberalism which doesn’t represent anything except a very small subset of morons, and certainly not what any serious “leftist” intellectual OR postmodern thinker actually believes. The article is a pathetic, ignorant, pseudo-intellectual diatribe and the website hosting it should be thoroughly ashamed, although I suppose as clickbait it has been a stunning success and that’s the main thing.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          It’s pretty clear from certain terms you are using here that you’re likely less of a “concerned citizen” and more of one of the guys from the anti-pundit brigade. But please, if not, engage in a defense of post-modernism. Explain how post-modernism does in fact posit the existence of absolute truth. You cannot because it does not.

        • ConcernedCitizen

          That’s kind of the point, is it not? Skepticism about absolute truth has been a characteristic of many different philosophical trends since the ancient Greeks, and is as much, if not more, a cornerstone of conservative thought than leftist. In fact it’s hard to characterise Marxism as anything other than a belief in the absolute truth of its historical materialist foundations. Attributing denial of absolute truth to postmodernism, which is mainly a reaction against the manner in which certain forms of modernism arrived at supposedly absolute truths, is just a tiny part of the story.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          First, I note that your counter-argument here seems to be surrendering to my fundamental premise. Nothing you said actually contradicts anything I’ve said. You’re not making the claim that post-modernism does in fact believe in the existence of any underlying truth, you haven’t even made any argument that tries to rebut my position about the harm post-modernism does to civilization. All you’ve said above is that other philosophies have previously rejected absolute truth and certain bad philosophies (Marxism) embraced it. Which is fairly irrelevant to the topic at hand.
          Even more irrelevant is trying to muddy the waters about “liberal” or “conservative” thought here; given that you again in no way claim that post-modernism was not a product of liberal thought, which would have been the only meaningful thing to say in that area also.

          Finally, to say that my article was not sufficiently detailed, or nuanced about minutiae, while technically a legitimate argument is also a fairly idiotic one if you combine it with the criticism above. You in essence are complaining that I didn’t talk about a bunch of irrelevant things, and add a bunch of details that were not central to the point. Something that would have required a book-length work to do, in all likelihood. Wrong medium.

        • ConcernedCitizen

          I wasn’t so much making a counter-argument as noting that your arguments are a thin tissue of ignorant and disingenuous nonsense.

          But anyway, let’s have a bit of detail. Which thinkers, who you would describe as postmodern, have done the most “harm”, and why? That doesn’t need a book. Just a reasonably lengthy comment (of which you’ve already written dozens here on this very post, so let’s not pretend you don’t have time) which demonstrates you’ve actually read any primary materials.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          As you’ve already essentially conceded to every argument I make in the article above, and since you are clearly a bad-faith actor, who doesn’t so much give a two-penny F*ck about the point at had but is only here to try to attack me for things I’ve written about roleplaying games, I am under zero requirement to justify myself to you at all.

          However, a the question itself is not invalid, I would suggest that Foucault is probably the single most harmful. First and foremost, on account of how he’s created generations of pretentious humanities students (more than half of whom have likely not read him) that Invoke his name like an Atheist would Dawkins in order to justify acting like a complete ass.

          In terms of his actual position, Foucault’s most dangerous ideas were in how he claimed that the notion of the Individual was just an artificial construct of power rather than the foundation of all rights. A close second was his idea that normativity was an inherent evil that was always used to oppress.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Of course, Derrida was a son of a bitch too. And it was him, more than Foucault, who pushed the “nothing is true” bullshit. Derrida was also a much poorer academic than Foucault.

        • Castellan of Cracow

          This finally nails it. For Foucault — as opposed to the projective shadows employed by friends and foes alike — all truth, even the “truth” of the individual, is a production of power. The regime of truth is a mask of power. The man was after all ultimately just another Nietzschean.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          No; both Foucault and Derrida engaged in a perversion of Nietzschean philosophy. They’re the kind of people Nietzsche tried to warn us about. There’s no overcoming yourself in them, there’s no effort to push toward or act as a bridge for man’s evolution. Their philosophy wants the ‘last man’, the collapse of all things.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “In more sophisticated manifestations it involves high-level fabrication
          of outright lies for whatever one believes to be the ‘greater cause’ (of
          imposing your ‘narrative’ on the world, since that narrative is in
          essence the only closest thing to the truth that you can have under
          post-modernism).”

          You do realize that that’s been going on for *ages* before there was such a thing as post-modernism, don’t you?

          Post-modernism is attempting to diagnose the disease you’re complaining about, and you’re treating the diagnosis as the cause.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Yes, it has. Certain movements in Communism, for example, felt it a “justifiable evil” to openly lie for the cause, or to make use of “useful idiots” to do the same. And traditional Communists certainly aren’t post-modernists. However, post-modernism is the first philosophy to say that this is not just an acceptable evil but is an entirely justifiable ‘good’, since there is no truth that needs to be broken for some kind of ‘greater good’, only your “narrative” to impose on the world.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Well, we also have the “noble lie” going all the way back to Plato.

          Again, you’re mistaking diagnosis for …I guess treatment, in this case, to extend my metaphor. Postmodernism says “analyzing the world in terms of narratives is a good thing, because that is how the world works, and we will understand it better if we do it this way, rather than trying to search for an underlying “truth” that has been shown, over and over again, to be clouded by other things.”

          Where you can find it, facts are great. As anyone watching the political world can see, “facts” are things that can be used to make up any one of a number of stories, and anyone expecting facts to win out over manipulation is, at best, a massive optimist.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          The thing is, Civilization itself has worked by the non-postmodernist method of holding up reason and rational discourse in the search for objective truth (and the establishment of rights based on those truths). If you remove that, if you get rid of the idea of underlying truth, then you take the very foundations out of civilization.

          Now of course, many post-modernists do it for exactly that purpose, out of contempt for our civilization. And many leftists, who are more or less post-modernists by indoctrination (i.e. without ever having read any post-modernist theory, but just by their education and immersion into our current paradigm), also feel the same way: thinking that it’s somehow a good thing to take the very foundations out of our civilization. After all, they argue, look at how this whole ‘underlying truth’ thing has produced a civilization that is so awful for minorities, for women, for people of variant genders or non-heterosexual sexualities!

          Except, looking at it from an historian’s eye, our civilization (with note of a long learning process and many errors along the way) has in fact been collectively much much better to all those groups than any other paradigm, school of thought, or ideological foundation in existence, and (when taken as a whole) that has ever existed. And the very protections that all these groups have (including the right to protest about how awful our civilization is) ONLY EXIST because of this civilization and that idea of underlying truth. You take that away, YOU TAKE AWAY THE PROTECTION. You are left with a completely rudderless barbaric world where whoever can talk the best or has the most guns wins.

          You keep suggesting that post-modernism is just a diagnostic, but it’s a diagnostic that assumes underlying features that then inform everything else in your world-view. If you can’t look at underlying truth, you can’t criticize George W. Bush’s war in Iraq. You have no real basis to question him and Rummy and Cheney when they sought out to tell their narrative, to “create their own reality”. The most you can say, in terms of diagnostic, amounts to “I really FEEL like I don’t like what you are saying”. To which they say, “So what? F*ck you, you F*cking hippies! He He He”. And you’re screwed.

          So as a “diagnosis”, Post-modernism SUCKS.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “The thing is, Civilization itself has worked by the non-postmodernist
          method of holding up reason and rational discourse in the search for
          objective truth (and the establishment of rights based on those truths)”

          This is, to put it mildly, a massive oversimplification of history, especially when you consider how much of it has been dominated by (quite literally) dogmatic principles.

          “If you remove that, if you get rid of the idea of underlying truth, then you take the very foundations out of civilization.”

          And here I thought, being only somewhat facetious, that the foundation of civilizations was figuring out how to get people to co-operate with each other, being able to live in such conditions. To create (as Plato and others might say) a narrative under which they all could co-exist.

          “Except, looking at it from an historian’s eye, our civilization (with
          note of a long learning process and many errors along the way) has in
          fact been collectively much much better to all those groups than any
          other paradigm, school of thought, or ideological foundation in
          existence, and (when taken as a whole) that has ever existed.”

          And here we get to a key point — if you’d asked people along the way, indeed, while committing many of those errors, they would have said *exactly* the same thing. What reason is there to believe that somehow we’ve hit the peak with this particular methodology, and from here it’s downhill?

          “If you can’t look at underlying truth, you can’t criticize George W. Bush’s war in Iraq. ”

          Sure you can — and as I’ve said, repeatedly, as you appear to be ignoring, there is a difference between “everything is just opinion” and “everything is *colored* by opinion.” Narrative colors everything — but there are things that can be pointed to as “fact”. And narratives can be matched against facts. However, it is apparent, to anyone who looks at the world, that narratives are *stronger* than facts — people will reject or conspiracy-theory away facts that do not match their worldview much more readily than the reverse.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Oh, I’ll agree that creating a good story has a lot of power to it. That’s the basis of myth, after all. But myth that doesn’t serve to shed light on (literally, to “illustrate”) Truth serves no purpose. It becomes the tool of the sophist. Not to godwin your argument, but you’re essentially backing up the old nazi argument that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will accept it as the truth.
          That’s not something laudable, it’s something to be fought against.

          And again, while I suppose someone shy of a complete post-modernist could at least technically throw facts in the face of the Donald Rumsfelds of this world (e.g., the invasion of the middle east will be too expensive, it will have too great a cost in lives, statistical analysis shows there will be insurgency, etc. etc.), you’d still have no MORAL argument for telling them not to do it. Because since your morality is just a story, there’s nothing that makes your story any better than theirs. Or than Boko Haram’s very powerful but utterly grotesque ‘narrative’ either, for that matter.

          If you yourself acknowledge that ‘narratives are stronger than facts’, I’ll add that STRENGTH and verbal or literal bullying is stronger than a narrative of being ‘nice’. Narrative, if that’s all there is, will ultimately serve to support authoritarians who appeal to people’s pettiness (be it authoritarians on the left or the right), their desire to see others hurt or punished for perceive wrongs, their desire to create a ‘great enemy’ that stands in for all their problems. The gist of my article is precisely this: that if you don’t have underlying Truth to fall back on, then the Narrative of the Fascist (of the leftist or the rightist variety, of the totalitarian control freak of religious or secular nature) will ultimately beat you out and commit horrific abuses that will endanger the very people you think you’re ‘helping’ by rejecting absolutes.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “That’s the basis of myth, after all. But myth that doesn’t serve to shed
          light on (literally, to “illustrate”) Truth serves no purpose.”

          On the contrary — myths can help shape what people believe to *be* true; consider the myth of the Lost Cause for the South, for example.

          It doesn’t serve what most people would consider a good purpose — but that’s part of the point.

          “but you’re essentially backing up the old nazi argument that if you
          repeat a lie often enough, people will accept it as the truth.”

          Considering how often that tactic has proven to be effective, thre’s something to that. Rather like blitzkrieg tactics — that horrible people used them does not diminish the efficacy of a tactic.

          ” you’d still have no MORAL argument for telling them not to do it.
          Because since your morality is just a story, there’s nothing that makes
          your story any better than theirs.”

          Here’s the thing you’re missing; The Rumsfelds and Cheneys are trying to appeal to the same basic moral principles — self-defense, fighting tyranny, etc. — that many of us would agree with. But their definitions of those principles — and their interpretations of the facts to back them up — that’s where they can be (and should be) challenged. If you look at Foucault, you’ll see this emphasized again and again — if you do not challenge the way the world is defined, the people in power will define it to suit them. And it is at that level — the narrative level — that the fight needs to happen, because facts can be made to conform to a narrative, or, as we have seen, be overwhelmed by people’s attempts to maintain their narrative in the face of cognitive dissonance.

          “If you yourself acknowledge that ‘narratives are stronger than facts’,
          I’ll add that STRENGTH and verbal or literal bullying is stronger than a
          narrative of being ‘nice’.”

          “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”

          That’s not always the case, as civil rights movements have pointed out to us again and again. It’s not an easy victory, but victories have been one using said narrative. Most people do not want to think of themselves as bullies; they want to think of themselves as good.

          “The gist of my article is precisely this: that if you don’t have underlying Truth to fall back on”

          Whose truth? Every major religion will happily sell you a bunch of truths. People use the verifiable truths of science to produce all sorts of racist poppycock. The question “Was it a riot or a protest” is not reducible to some kind of underlying Truth, because above and beyond the facts, the very definitions of “protest” and “riot” are in dispute.

          Show me some “Truth” outside of the realm of the natural sciences and mathematics, and then we can begin this discussion. I may well agree with you that the things you present are *good* — but that doesn’t make them “Truths”.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          I’ll point out that I think Dr. Martin Luther King himself went as far as saying that the civil rights movement did not get very far on the basis of being ‘nice’. And he was quite right. There’s a difference between non-violent and nice.

          Not to mention that the success of the civil rights movement was again, situated on the demand for those rights that were conceivable only as part of an underlying truth. And only possible to be demanded and granted in a civilization that had evolved through a process of increasingly rigorous confirmation of those truths. MLK or Gandhi’s struggles would have been doomed under any culture that placed less values on the inalienable rights of all human beings.

          As for Foucault’s emphasis, he believed that everything was a function of semantic power. Which seems really great for analyzing and criticizing/condemning structures (which was kind of his deal), but useless for having a basis from which to argue against power manifested.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Also, as a side-note (and this may not be the place for it ;)) — what’s your issue with GNS theory? :)

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          I have to assume at this point that you’re a gamer, then, since I mentioned it nowhere here that I recall. The question is irrelevant here. That’s what my gaming blog is for. I presume you know about it, if you know about the existence of GNS theory. There are many, many blog entries (archived in my forum, theRPGsite.com, one of the most popular RPG discussion sites on the internet) on the subject. Here at Everyjoe, I won’t be talking about RPGs (or at least, have no plan to at this moment).

        • Steven Schwartz

          OK. I’ll go look there; because, indeed, I searched on you and followed links to see what you had to say.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Unless you’re a gamer, and I notice you’re not admitting you are or not, you really wouldn’t be likely to find much that would interest you, or that you’d understand. Of course, I suspect you ARE a gamer.

        • Steven Schwartz

          I am — I didn’t realize it was something one needed to “admit”.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Well, presumably there are people reading this that are not gamers. Though I’m very grateful for all the gamers, friends and especially foes too, who have helped up my comment and view-count which is very important in this business!
          But on another level, it makes a different as to whether this article is the first you ever heard of me, or if you’re coming here because I’m also the RPGPundit. Presumably, everyone who has heard about the RPGPundit has an opinion about me, generally either love me or hate me. So that could affect the question of whether you’re actually arguing about just what I posted here, or the accumulated sentiment of what you think about 10+ years of my presence in the gaming hobby.

        • Steven Schwartz

          I am here because (as you may note from looking around everyjoe) I often get into discussions/arguments here. I backtracked you to your RPG work *from* here, if that helps.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Oh, well cool. I didn’t expect a lot of tabletop RPG gamers to DISCOVER me from my writing at Everyjoe. But cool if that’s happening too!

      • Kasimir Urbanski

        In order to deflect from the attacks from the goon squad, I would like to draw your attention to my latest ‘rpgpundit’ blog entry (which happens to not be about roleplaying games, so rest easy there!):

        I’m sure all of you have, at some point, probably even at least once today, asked yourselves “Gee, I wonder what it’s like to donate blood in the nation of Uruguay”?
        Well, wonder no more:

        “It was at this point I was starting to wonder: was I in the right place at all? Was this all some sort of terrible mistake? Maybe there had been some confusion, and in my daze I’d wandered into some kind of exclusive medical-practitioner’s cafe/lounge where I was about to cause a small riot by attempting to give blood on what should in fact be their salad bar? ”

        http://therpgpundit.blogspot.com/2014/12/go-give-blood-there-may-espresso-in-it.html

        But seriously, go be a f**king grownup. Give blood

        • tuypo1

          you know what pundit i will i have been meaning to do so thanks for reminding me

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          good!

      • Juan DeMarco

        This is just standard issue “I am not a Conservative BUT…” tripe. You give no specific examples of the left’s “whining” or of their scolding the right’s “morals” as being no better than anyone else. Do concrete examples undercut your point so much that you are unable to use any at all? All you are doing is name calling and mischaracterization.

        But please, elaborate more on your “enemies” and how they have all banded together in a conspiracy against you. And please link to your column on how amusing you found the slaughter of children in Norway to be – that should be instructive to your readers.

        I hope this site’s management will consider the irony of you being an “everyjoe” – but it seems unlikely.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          “juan demarco”? I don’t know that one. Have you guys decided to stop posting with the false names of rpg-hobby-celebrities now?

          Also, bonus points to you for trying to make me out to be a racist or a fascist. But hey, truth doesn’t matter to you people, right?

      • Juan

        Truth DOES matter, son. There was none of it in your post above. I was hoping to get some specific examples, but since you are simply strawmanning, you cannot provide any.

        That is why you deflected my comment and included me in your conspiracy.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          No, Juan, I “included you in your conspiracy” because I am familiar with the RPG hobby and can google back to the blog where all of you were talking about just how to slander me, including trying to make it look like I supported Brevik. I know that this was the current libel plan for the same reason you know: because you come out of that group who are determined to take me down out of a combination of ideological opposition and endless impotent frustration that in spite of not representing your ideologies I keep somehow keep beating you and becoming more famous and more successful than ever before.

          It must suck to lose over and over and over again like that. Guess you shouldn’t go up against a wizard, baby.

        • Blanche Starbong

          ” I keep somehow keep beating you and becoming more famous and more successful than ever before.” ha!

      • Kasimir Urbanski

        Well, 20 comments and counting! It’s almost unfair how these boobs are going to help me get famous here just like they did over in the RPG hobby.

      • J Tarnowski

        Interesting thoughts as always. Is the integrity of personal identity the foundation of a truth-oriented culture? “Know thyself,” as the ancients said. As for the stuff about “semantic success,” it seems dangerously occult to me — doesn’t one of them say something like “success is your proof” or if an argument wins, it was obviously the stronger one, something like that?

      • BG

        I would be interested in seeing a few more case and citation and whatnot.
        I would agree that post-modernism should not have a large presence in the common functioning of politics. However I would note that it is still a useful concept and can be a force of good when used in small portions for the purpose of removing outdated traditions and policies. Unfortunately it is often taken to the extreme by pseudo intellectuals that use it as a escape from any actual dialogue.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          I’m not too sure what post-modernism itself adds to the mix. Most of what is recoverable from it is actually what it already borrowed from other sources. I mean, the study of semantics has been with us since antiquity, including the study of it’s role in rhetoric.
          Likewise, in modernist thought there is already the understanding that we work to attempt to approach at an objective truth that can likely never be reached, and that therefore our individual understands can be relative. But the part in post-modernism that turns this on its head and says “therefore we should assume there is no truth” is in no way constructive or useful, it is only harmful as it tears away the whole foundation of discourse.

      • Kasimir Urbanski

        37 Comments now! Thank you, Swine, for making me famous again at a whole other level! I really truly couldn’t have done it without you.

      • Brad

        Does anyone else find it ironic that the comments disputing the article directly support the article’s premise?

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Well, one legitimate criticism of my article was that I didn’t go into detail about examples of what I was talking about. That was due to this being my first article, meant more to introduce one of the subjects I feel strongly about; and also because the good folks at EveryJoe do put a limit on just how much I can write per-article, so I couldn’t exactly do 20 pages on this.
          But fortunately, for those who wanted examples, they’ve been very kindly provided by the Goon Squad in the comments themselves. I knew I could count on them to come through.

      • Socrates is Mortal

        The problems inherent in Postmodernist thought are nothing new. They’ve been around at least since the pre-Socratics and, in my view, Socrates and Plato are a reaction to and an attempt to refute some of the pre-Socratic philosophers, i.e. the Sophists.

        I found this section of the Wikipedia article on Postmodernism apt.

        Philosopher Daniel Dennett declared, “Postmodernism, the school of ‘thought’ that proclaimed ‘There are no truths, only interpretations’ has largely played itself out in absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of academics in the humanities disabled by their distrust of the very idea of truth and their disrespect for evidence, settling for ‘conversations’ in which nobody is wrong and nothing can be confirmed, only asserted with whatever style you can muster.”

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Excellent point. Thanks for sharing it!

      • Castellan of Cracow

        Alex, what’s going on? I thought my comments were more on track than 90% of this stuff but they keep vanishing. Am I hitting an auto screen or something? Anyway, I created another account. Maybe that’s the problem?

        • Julius Evola

          But but… you were talking to the article’s author like you were someone else… now you say you “created another account” and ask Alex (Macris, obviously) for help… what sorcery is this??? OMG YOU REALLY ARE A WIZARD

        • Castellan of Cracow

          This place is a den of occultists, “Julius” if that is you. I just had trouble getting my posts to show up for some reason unfathomable to me so was hoping the general manager or someone could help me figure out why.

      • Castellan of Cracow

        REPOST: Interesting thoughts as always. Is the integrity of personal identity the foundation of a truth-oriented culture? “Know thyself,” as the ancients said. As for the stuff about “semantic success,” it seems dangerously occult to me — doesn’t one of them say something like “success is your proof” or if an argument wins, it was obviously the stronger one, something like that?

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          I’d say that’s serious misreading of the particular Holy Book you’re quoting. In any case, present-day occultism like everything else in our culture has it’s share of post-modernists and anti-postmodernists.

        • Castellan of Cracow

          Thanks. I looked it up (not an occultist myself, that stuff is dangerous) and what is the correct reading of “let success be thy proof?”

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          There are many layers of meaning to it, but my understanding of it is that in fact there’s little value in words (in the same part it says “talk not overmuch”), or in mental games. But that instead the way to find truth is through experience.

        • Pundejo Tarnowski D’Jackass

          Pictured above: totally not the article’s author talking to himself by means of a sockpuppet.

        • Castellan of Cracow

          That’s got to be the ultimate postmodern situation! The author reduced to bickering with other facets of his own subjectivity like a composer who gave his hands names so he could study how they bickered around the keyboard. Perhaps this is part of that inevitable erosion of received truth that the OP decries. All I know is my other account wasn’t working.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Please, none of you are fooling anyone. It would help if you didn’t openly plan your attempted trolling on your blog first.

        • tuypo1

          you know you mention them planing a lot but i have been unable to find where these plans are

        • Pundejo Tarnowski D’Jackass

          You deleted my comment above. Your response no longer makes any sense.

          Also, your impression of Postmodernism, you’re doing it wrong.

        • Castellan of Cracow

          I have no idea what you’re talking about! Did your comment go down as “spam” also?

        • Castellan of Cracow

          I’m all for “talking not overmuch” but it does strike me that the semantically successful trumps all varieties of failure. Kafka says something about why only losers tell parables — but somehow the postmodernists rule the world in chains of language so their “success” is still its own proof, no?

      • Steven Schwartz

        I think you’re making the classic mistake of an “is” for an “ought” here: many postmodernists are concerned with description, rather than prescription.

        “Put in plainer terms: if you can create a set of words, put them
        together into a semantic argument, you can define anything as anything.
        You can say (as the tweets point out) that an apple is in fact an
        orange; it doesn’t matter whether that’s “true” or not
        because there’s no such thing as truth, and instead all that matters is
        that you be able to argue it often enough and well enough that it gets
        accepted by enough people to create a ‘reality bubble’. Its magical
        thinking of the worst kind applied on a cultural scale.”

        This is how postmodernism explains the failure of rationality. Not that there “is no truth” but that we cannot access it, and we have think not in terms of reaching an absolute truth, but in terms of figuring out the narratives that we work under.

        Outside of the physical sciences (and sometimes, even within them — I commend to your attention “The Mismeasure of Man” by Steven Jay Gould), “truth” is, indeed, proving something very hard to pin down. There are things we mostly agree on as consensus truths — but even there, to take the moon landing as an example, there are steadfast deniers.

        It’s by no means, for example, an established “fact” that Jesus of Nazareth ever actually existed — but to (I believe) a majority of the world’s population, it certainly is.

        “If you keep saying “there’s no such thing as true or false, right or
        wrong, there’s only personal narratives that can only be forced or
        defended by Semantics,” you are arguing for the intellectual equivalent
        of “Might-Makes-Right.” And the problem with that is that this
        philosophy very rarely favors the weak, the poor, minorities, etc., for
        very long.”

        Actually, no — you’re arguing for more analysis of one’s own narratives. You’re taking a very simplistic view, and then criticizing people who hold much more nuanced views for your simplification.

        For example: The demonstrating of multiple narratives around, say, a police shooting — where once upon a time the “established truth” from authority would be that of the police’s POV — is progress; it allows people to question what actually happened, and, what’s more, *why* it happened.

        The post-modernists’ point, by and large, is that we have *always* lived in a world where the powerful got to impose their notion of reality — and it is only by challenging the way we form consensus reality, the way we structure narrative, etc., that we can undercut this power. You’ve got it almost completely backwards.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          But the very claim that it’s impossible to access truth inherently contains within it a rejection of the idea of working by judging degrees of truth, and supplants it with the idea of just ‘creating narratives’. That’s the poison of post-modernism right there. It creates the assumption that we just work under ‘narratives’ and that the strength of narrative is inherent in how well constructed it is, rather than working under rational analysis and judging its strength by how close said analysis comes to approaching objective truth.

          For example, we can look at the conflicting arguments about the existence of Jesus in the context of a “religious” (or “anti-religious”) narrative and judge these by their utility, how tolerant they are, whether they serve particular demographics or not, whether they propagate good or evil in the world; but none of that actually works from the basis of approaching truth. To approach truth, you need to look rationally at the historical data we have, and indeed you’d come to the conclusion most modern historians hold: that there was indeed some kind of historical Jesus (the “jesus is a myth” theory having been largely discredited in mainstream historical study for a very long time now, though still extremely popular among atheists and certain rabid non-christians).

          There’s no “nuance” in rejecting truth. It’s “simplistic” to claim that your own personal opinions are absolute truth without self-analysis; but it is likewise just as simplistic to just throw out the baby with the bathwater and say “there’s no truth, it’s all just competing stories” which is what postmodernism does. The post-modernists are PSEUDO-intellectuals: they play at being profound thinkers but their very assumptions are totally solipsistic.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “But the very claim that it’s impossible to access truth inherently
          contains within it a rejection of the idea of working by judging degrees
          of truth, and supplants it with the idea of just ‘creating narratives’.”

          Ah — but you can compare narratives, compare them to what can be agreed on as fact — indeed, compare them to what is measurable — and come to *some* conclusions.

          But it also leaves us aware of the things we can’t really know, or have a hard time doing so. To pick an example: It’s not a matter of “truth” when you start discussing “protesting” vs. “rioting”. What appears to the protestors to be a peaceful protest may appear to the police as “disrupting the peace”.

          Which of these is “true”? We can try and establish ever-more-detailed guidelines, but even that process grows out of the understanding that the truth is out of our reach — that we have to come up with an interpretation we can agree on. (And, as I pointed out, some of those interpretations will never be agreed on.)

          ” rather than working under rational analysis and judging its strength by
          how close said analysis comes to approaching objective truth.”

          Not at all — again, you’re misunderstanding the diagnosis for the symptom. If we stop and look at a situation as a mix of narratives, especially an argument, we can start teasing out where they overlap — what we can agree on — where they are testable — and what is purely and simply a matter of different definitions.

          “To approach truth, you need to look rationally at the historical data we
          have, and indeed you’d come to the conclusion most modern historians
          hold: that there was indeed some kind of historical Jesus (the “jesus is
          a myth” theory having been largely discredited in mainstream historical
          study for a very long time now, though still extremely popular among
          atheists and certain rabid non-christians).”

          And here we get back to the narrative issue; “discredited” is one of those places where getting to the truth becomes very difficult. It’s easy for me, for example, to say that trickle-down economics has been thoroughly discredited — yet there are many people who give it credit. (This is the old “X cannot fail, it can only *be* failed” problem of thought.)

          There’s bad thinking (and errors of thought) in every movement, every philosophy. I’d recommend not treating the errors as the movement, however.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          You seem to be mistakenly suggesting that Post-modernism invented criticism itself. It did not. Rational discourse beat it by more than a few years. So suggesting that this is the main distinguishing feature of post-modernism is fairly disingenuous. Especially when all that post-modernism does in comparison is remove the need for any kind of objective basis for criticism. Its how certain women’s studies scholars, for example, argued that “different ways of knowing” was a justifiable reason to keep claiming that 9 million women were burned at the stake during the witch craze in Europe, even though that figure has been proven to be literally impossible.

          Likewise, the whole “jesus was just a myth invented hundreds of years later” theory was not ‘discredited’ by someone “really really FEELING it was not true” or something like that, it was discredited by evidence that makes it so unlikely as to be absurd.

        • Steven Schwartz

          You seem to be mistakenly suggesting that Post-modernism invented criticism itself.

          Not at all — it took a different tack on criticism, which is not the same thing as “inventing” it. ;)

          “Its how certain women’s studies scholars, for example, argued that “different ways of knowing” was a justifiable reason to keep claiming that 9 million women were burned at the stake during the witch craze in Europe, even though that figure has been proven to be literally impossible.”

          I would love to see the citation on this; I suspect, like many such statements, it came to you devoid of context.

          “Likewise, the whole “jesus was just a myth invented hundreds of years later” theory was not ‘discredited’ by someone “really really FEELING it was not true” or something like that, it was discredited by evidence that makes it so unlikely as to be absurd.”

          Ah — you’re using a different version of the theory in this argument; now I understand. I was presenting a conflationary model; someone existed who led a movement, but many of the attributes assigned to this person are so stereotypical as to be mythic rather than historical in origin.

          I am not aware, for example, that Dr. Carrier’s work has been “discredited”.

          As I said before — you’re mistaking extremes of a movement for the ideas that it’s based on, and extrapolating that the “movement” is dangerous/etc. Heck; based on the understanding of the time, one could make a perfectly “rational” argument for homosexuality being a disorder, because look at what it did to people who suffered from it? Only when you start looking outside the particular narrow box of apparent objective truth can you begin to see some of those other factors (i.e. “Hey, GLBTQ folk don’t have bad outcomes because being GLTBQ is bad or disordered, it’s because societal pressures cause them to have bad outcomes (all statements here being generalities, of course)).

          Do I think that postmodernism will cure all ills? No. Do I believe it can provide a useful viewpoint into intractable problems? Yes.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          The “9 million women” figure was initially used by Feminist/women’s study academic/activist/witch Starhawk in her book, The Spiral Dance. She essentially pulled the figure out of her ass. To her credit, she later admitted that the figure was impossible but adds that “clearly, no one could know” the real number (though in fact several historians have made very thorough actual research not just based on feelings and got a figure of less than 100000 in the course of 500 years, which is to say a high average of 200 a year, or to say that Starhawk’s number was _90 times_ higher than the highest possible (researched) estimate.

          Mind you, Starhawk’s response is not what I was referencing. I was referencing something said, to my face, in a university seminar by an instructor in the mid-90s (recovering Humanities scholar, remember?).

          And Carrier, the Ultra-Atheist guy? The “God Who Wasn’t There” guy? Sorry, no one takes him seriously (except Dawkins-style New Atheists). What he’s doing is a bit like the Archeology Department at Brigham-Young going to central america and claiming to find ‘evidence’ of the Nephites there.
          You want to argue for a ‘mythicized’ Jesus (i.e. that there was all kinds of mythological elements added on top of jesus) that’s not just viable but demonstrable. You want to argue that therefore, Jesus did not actually exist, and you’re making a radical, unproveable, and fundamentally illogical claim.

          As for GLBT people being persecuted, again, only our civilization and its rational process permitted the creation of a set of Rights that would inherently protect them. And only the application of reason with an aim toward underlying truth gets you there.
          Otherwise, again, tell me WHAT would be the justification for opposing someone who’s narrative is to butcher gay people, or redheads, or tutsis, or yezidis, or left-handed people or anyone else in the streets? The reason the post-modern left is so bad at actually standing up to militant Islam, for example, or at genocides in Africa, is because the militant Wahabis or the Boko Haram or the genital-mutilators or the hutu-slaughterers say “Shut up! This is our belief!” and you have NO REBUTTAL. Because it is their narrative, and you can’t say “its wrong” because there’s no truth by which to say it’s wrong. At the very best you can say “i FEEL it’s wrong”. But why should they care what you feel? If there’s no truth, why shouldn’t they murder hutus or mutilate little girls or kill people who think slightly different than them about god?

          Note that I’m NOT saying “there’s something inherent in our western ‘culture’ that makes us superior and that’s why we are better than that”. We used to kill people over whether they believed a piece of bread was literal or just symbolic flesh-of-christ or not. What I’m saying is that our civilizational thought process, through a series of lucky breaks, managed to develop reasons better than “I believe this” (which is the same as saying “it’s a narrative”) for why we shouldn’t do these things, and rational concepts that let us understand certain principles.

        • Socrates is Mortal

          ‘But it also leaves us aware of the things we can’t really know, or have a hard time doing so. To pick an example: It’s not a matter of “truth” when you start discussing “protesting” vs. “rioting”. What appears to the protestors to be a peaceful protest may appear to the police as “disrupting the peace”.’

          Recognizing that different people have different viewpoints is not new. But if the question is was an event a riot, a protest, or a group of rioting protestors, than looking at something other than competing narratives is a way at arriving at a useful determination.

          Were windows broken, people attacked with fists or feet, rocks thrown, cars overturned or burned, shots fired, or bombs thrown by protestors? If the answer to all the above was no, than it wasn’t a riot. If the answer to all the above was yes, than it was a lot more than a protest and it sure as heck wasn’t a peaceful protest.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Were windows broken, people attacked with fists or feet, rocks thrown,
          cars overturned or burned, shots fired, or bombs thrown by protestors?
          If the answer to all the above was no, than it wasn’t a riot. If the
          answer to all the above was yes, than it was a lot more than a protest
          and it sure as heck wasn’t a peaceful protest.”

          And what privileges this definition?

          For example, I notice that since you (intentionally or not) omitted nightsticks, we don’t know if police beating protestors with sticks helps make it a riot. Indeed, this definition is useful only in retrospect – and carries with it a great deal of implicit blame. For example, consider these headlines:

          “Peaceful protest becomes riot in downtown Berkeley”
          “Police handle rioters in downtown Berkeley”.

          You’ve given a way to define “It’s not X”, but left a vast middle ground in dispute; this is *somewhat* helpful, but only somewhat, and certainly doesn’t solve the larger problem.

        • Socrates is Mortal

          “And what privileges this definition?”

          Common sense and rationality which are two things that seem lacking in postmodern thought..

          By the way those are the same things that tells us that if the protesters did none of those things while the police responded to their gathering with nightsticks, watercannons, tear gas, then rifle and machine gun bullets the poiice were motivated by something other than keeping the peace.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Common sense and rationality which are two things that seem lacking in postmodern thought..”

          And here we go again: “Common sense” is “What the powers that be defined as the way things are” — or “What we’ve always believed”. Which is not a good enough reason to assert it’s “True”.

          “By the way those are the same things that tells us that if the
          protesters did none of those things while the police responded to their gathering with nightsticks, watercannons, tear gas, then rifle and machine gun bullets the poiice were motivated by something other than keeping the peace.”

          Like I said, this is a partially helpful response — and there’s nothing wrong with helpful. But “helpful” and “being a rationally based Truth” (to use some of the sort of language our original poster used) are different things. And realizing that different people define it different ways allows for better understanding of *why* they do what they do.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          I’ll add too that the “protester” vs “rioter” thing is actually an example of just how useless post-modernism is. The Gramscian Socialists couldn’t have invented a better system by which to tear down the social fabric: it is a method that starts by inherently saying there’s no truth to be reached at and then goes on to say that there’s no reason for either side to budge in their understanding.

          Postmodernism is the reason WHY people can claim that an event was a protest or a riot and never ever come to any understanding about it. The “competing narrative” of Fox News or the Daily Kos will just go on forever, promoting the break down in civil society as two different groups are convinced of two completely different stories with no reason or incentive to ever know the truth.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Postmodernism is the reason WHY people can claim that an event was a
          protest or a riot and never ever come to any understanding about it.”

          Nonsense. There have been, in effect, dictionary wars going on for far longer, again, than postmodernism existed. Postmodernism gave us tools to explain what was going on, and how it shapes things; it didn’t cause any of this.

          After all, where are we going for our “authoritative” definitions for truth here? At most what we have is an assemblage of facts, which we can weigh and interpret according to what we bring to the table.

          Or are you going to argue that there is some Platonic “riot” and “protest” we can weigh these against?

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Let me say, in spite of my disagreeing with you, that I appreciate this detailed and thoughtful commentary, particularly given the quality of the gibberish being put out by the Goon Squad.

        • Steven Schwartz

          You’re most welcome. I enjoy a good debate and discussion when it comes my way.

      • Castellan of Cracow

        93 comments so far!

        • Mr Clean

          Does that include the ones you — i mean “Kasimir” *wink*wink* — deleted?

        • Castellan of Cracow

          99% of identities are an artificial construct. Maybe that’s doubly true here on EveryJoe.com. All I can really be sure of is that at least eight comments have disappeared without warning. Either it’s a plugin glitch or someone is actively screening according to hidden, perhaps subjective criteria.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Doxxing attacks on authors here are not allowed. That’s what gets comments deleted. Also apparently certain kinds of extreme profanity.

          I also love how you guys have worked this out, to make a sockpuppet in order to suggest that I’m sockpuppeting. Just another example of the absolute lack of any low that post-modernist Swine won’t stoop to in order to attack people they don’t like. No need for truth, right Mr. Clean?

        • Castellan of Cracow

          I don’t know what you’re talking about. I see a post by “Kasimir Urbanski,” I think I’ll exchange the wink by saluting another hero of medieval Poland.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Tarnowski

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          And now, having been found out, you decide to give up the facade, huh?

        • Mr Clean

          Oh, thanks for pointing out you were directing that at me. I thought you were talking to one of your socks again.

          Do you get paid by the comment or something? If so, you might want to not delete so many. “Many” being a mathematically relative term, one might say, in the sense that 93 is significantly less than 765.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          The only sockpuppeteers here are you guys.

      • Socrates is Mortal

        I want to start a new thread so I can more easily find the responses.

        Steven Schwartz: “And here we go again: “Common sense” is “What the powers that be defined as the way things are” — or “What we’ve always believed”. Which is not a good enough reason to assert it’s “True”.”

        I saw what you did there. But do you really want to reintroduce “here we go again”? It was an annoying and tired phrase when what’s his name made it a central part of his lame schtick and it certainly does nothing to promote your argument that focusing on narratives instead of truth isn’t a blight on rational discourse.

        But to return to the idea of common sense, one definition of common sense is practical wisdom based on living life and interacting with people beyond the artificial and petty definitional arguments found in the halls of academia. That was the meaning I was using.

        Steven Schwartz: “Like I said, this is a partially helpful response — and there’s nothing wrong with helpful. But “helpful” and “being a rationally based Truth” (to use some of the sort of language our original poster used) are different things. And realizing that different people define it different ways allows for better understanding of *why* they do what they do.”

        That people define words differently is obvious. It’s helpful to be aware of and as you said, there is nothing wrong with helpful, but it falls within the realm of easily observed life experience, in other words, of common sense. Why postmodernists want to elevate this banal observation to the pinnacle of their discipline escapes me. Don’t they have anything actually interesting to say or do?

        Steven Schwartz: “Sure you can — and as I’ve said, repeatedly, as you appear to be ignoring, there is a difference between “everything is just opinion” and “everything is *colored* by opinion.” Narrative colors everything — but there are things that can be pointed to as “fact”. And narratives can be matched against facts. However, it is apparent, to anyone who looks at the world, that narratives are *stronger* than facts — people will reject or conspiracy-theory away facts that do not match their worldview much more readily than the reverse.”

        Do you realize that you are now agreeing with the very point I made that looking at the facts rather than the narratives and definitional distortions tells us whether a riot or a protest occurred, a point with which you took issue.

        To turn your own question back at you, what privileges your narrative of the facts over George Bush’s narrative?

        That is the essential question that Urbanski is asking in Urbanski’s article and one you have yet to answer.

      • Kasimir Urbanski

        Man.. I wonder if next week’s article will get this level of response. Spoiler: it’s going to be about Christmas.

        • Socrates is Mortal

          Try simultaneously using the term Xian positively and advocating for State mandated religion and see what you get. ;-)

      • Michael R Trice

        Wait. Did I just read a rant against relativism without evidence and basic argumentative support structure? Kudos for the willingness to go nuts, but I do prefer my satire with a few more layers.

        As painful as raw relativism can be at times, the whole point of relativism as a system of critique is well-illustrated here: Claims to truth can’t protect you when making a poorly structured and unsupported argument.

        • Kasimir Urbanski

          Again, consider this an introductory manifesto to an argument that will be made with much more specific case-studies as we go along over the course of my time at EveryJoe.

      • Cylonophile

        Actually if this is the self-titled “Rpg pundit” His name Is really John Tarnowski.

      • Cylonophile

        If this Indeed the self-crowned “Rpgpundit” His name Is actually John Tarnowski.

        • Castellan of Cracow

          Oh! That must be where my comments went. That’s my handle too!

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