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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Postmodernism, it's continued relevance

In a recent post on this blog I linked to a Lee Harris column which asked "why isn't socialism dead?"  The key point was that socialism lives on in the dimension of myth.  The author concluded that piece:
This is why socialism isn't dead, and why in our own century it may well spring back into life with a force and vigor shocking to those who have, with good reason, declared socialism to be no longer viable. It is also why Georges Sorel is perhaps even more relevant today than he was a hundred years ago. He knew that it was hopeless to guide men by reason and argument alone. Men need myths -- and until capitalism can come up with a transformative myth of its own, it may well be that many men will prefer to find their myths in the same place they found them in the first part of the twentieth century -- the myth of revolutionary socialism.

This is the challenge that capitalism faces in the world today -- whether it will rise to the challenge is perhaps the most urgent question of our time, and those who refuse to confront this challenge are doing no service to reason or to human dignity and freedom. Bad myths can only be driven out by better myths, and unless capitalism can provide a better myth than socialism, the latter will again prevail.
I prefer to use a term other than capitalism as do most of the readers of this blog.  There are even bigger problems than word usage.  There is a combination of the myth of socialism and the propagation of a toxic idea meant to undermine the ability of a free society to defend itself.  Dr. Sanity offers the following:
 What are these "dangerous trends that began decades ago"? To understand what is happening in the world today, one must understand the a philosophy that has taken root in Western Civilization and brought us to this point in history--and, yes, ideas really matter; and when you are basing your society on bad ones, then you can expect bad things to happen.

The philosophy that is behind these dangerous trends is Postmodernism; and Barack Obama represents the culmination and embodiment of the perfect postmodern demagogue.


There have been prior posts on this blog   dealing with Postmodernism as well as  additional posts at at Dr. Sanity blog.  She continues:
 
We can think of the four pillars--POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, MULTICULTURALISM, RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALISM, and TERRORISM-- as the foundation for both the socialist revival (particularly in the Western hemisphere recently) and for the rapid advancement of the Islamic Jihad and Islamic fundamentalism.

Below is a flow chart that has been adapted from Stephen Hick's book, Explaining Postmodernism (p. 173), which summarizes the evolution of these four strategies/pillars of leftist/progressive thought; and though I have written about it before, it is well worth repeating over and over again as the perfect postmodern storm that swirls around approaches a Category 5; and as reason, truth, and reality are belittled and ignored by our leaders:


The refusal to accept failure combined with the spawn of Postmodernism gives the radical left considerable ability to undermine freedom.

28 comments:

Clovis e Adri said...

Howard,

I can see why you link socialism (or the Left) with PC, multiculturalism and enviromentalism.

But Terrorism?

I do not think Bin Laden was much of a socialist, do you?

He even did his share of fighting against socialism in its old explicit form, the USSR.


erp said...

How can we reverse over a hundred years of pro-socialism propaganda when all the tools for information dispersal have been co-opted?

Howard said...

Clovis,

You can look at some of what is offered by Hicks and also Horowitz.

erp,

There was a near monopoly in media. Now there are alternatives and the internet and tools which enable individuals to produce content. Give things a generation...

erp said...

I hope you're right literally as well as figuratively because there are probably very smart people right now figuring on way to stop the alternative media from getting out the truth.

Clovis e Adri said...

Howard,

I think Hicks is talking about a subject very different from modern Islamic terrorism. Now, for Horowitz, I will not buy it, for using the golden rule of reading both the 5 stars and the 1 star reviews, it doesn't look like my kind of book.

You and Erp look to follow very well a little theory I have.

There are many Americans who grew up and lived through those exciting times of Cold War, where America led the World against the Great Evil. So much fun all around.

Then it ended and all the international sections of newspapers became so dull. Now, to understand and have fun on anything new, you still need to link it to those old good times, even if is completely non sense.

Hence Erp can not let go that Socialism and Communism still want to conquer the world. Looks like you too. Old habits die hard. Or do not die at all.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

What about universal health care? That's socialism and very relevant today, not just an old battle people are dredging up for nostalgia's sake.

If we are not still in a struggle with Socialism vs. Free Markets, what is the deep divide in American politics about? After all, as recently as 2009 Old Media considered socialism triumphant*.

* Of course, one might ask, what happened in time frame to bring this out? Not the election of a President, as that President is not socialist. Just can't be. Because shut up!

Howard said...

Clovis,

I found no excitement in the Cold War, so there is nothing that needs replacing. If you want an appreciation of how far off the mark you are on this matter, see some of the earlier posts on this blog about statism.

erp said...

What Howard said.

Clovis e Adri said...

Howard,

Well, I do miss the excitement of Cold War times, it was pretty fun, and I barely lived it.

I went to read a few older posts here on Statism. Some of them are very good. I will take some time to think before commenting further. I do have a correction, though: On 17 May, 2006, in the post "Superiority of Self Organizing Systems", Bret includes the Big Bang among examples of "decentralization and distribution of information and processes". It really makes no sense to attribute that to the Big Bang.


AOG,

Part of the problem is the ever shifting parameters of what is considered socialism. Back in the 80's, when what you call Obamacare today was first conceived by conservative think thanks, mostly supported by Republicans, that plan was considered the solution against socialist ideas of universal health care.

Notice how the idea of decentralizing the health care and let its management to insurance companies in the private markets have all the hallmarks of what is considered good (and anti-statist) by conservatives. Or at least it used to be so.

The trend for privatizations and reducing the state are still the all powerful dogmas, who keep having dominance over the economic organization of most countries. The only traces of "statism" that are kept intact are basically on welfare, and even that is receding as we speak.

So, I still do not see why anyone can think socialism is that alive.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Obamacare today was first conceived by conservative think thanks, mostly supported by Republicans

That's rewritten history. It was certainly not supported by Republicans in general, and I think your plural is factually incorrect. The MAL has latched on to that one lapse as a lifeline, despite its irrelevance.

idea of decentralizing the health care

Well, then, you admit that POR-care was not a descendant of that think tank idea, because POR-care is the opposite of decentralized. It's also the opposite of "letting its management to insurance companies", otherwise there would be no healthcare.gov, would there?

The trend for privatizations and reducing the state are still the all powerful dogmas, who keep having dominance over the economic organization of most countries

Not as far as I can tell. We seem to be in a wave these days of renationalization and centralization (e.g., the EU). Statism is not receding, it continues to grow almost everywhere, certainly in the USA. POR-care is an excellent example of that.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

Why that plural is incorrect?


As for healthcare.gov, I went there now and it looks like a portal to help people find *private* insurances for them.

Am I wrong? If not, I do not see your point here.


Now, to call the EU a "renationalization" is quite off the mark, AOG, do you want to defend that or was it a slip up?

erp said...

Clarification: This statement The trend for privatizations and reducing the state are still the all powerful dogmas, ... makes no sense in the U.S.

Privatization and de-centralization are foreign concepts because the norm for the U.S. is for everything except those responsibilities outlined in the founding documents to be private or local, so things can't be privatized or decentralized unless there were power grabs by lefties as we are now seeing.

Such a thing would have been unthinkable even a few years ago.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp,

---
Privatization and de-centralization are foreign concepts because the norm for the U.S. is for everything except those responsibilities outlined in the founding documents to be private or local [...]
---
Really?

An example: there have been, since the 90's, a wave of privatization of highways in Brazil, for example. Upon looking on the matter, I've seen the majority of the highways in the US are still in states hands.

In the 90's we have seen here the privatization of telecommunications companies, energy companies, water companies, a few (local state) highways and railroads, and finally state banks, to name the main ones.

We are now in the middle of more highway privatizations (now the federal ones), airports and naval ports, and other infrastructure related things.

I guess that, from the list above, maybe you may find a few other cases in govt. hands in the US, as is the case for highways.


Your lack of interest for the world outside, Erp, does hinder your economic knowledge.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Clovis;

Name the "conservative think tanks" that you claim invented POR-care. And more than one, since you think the plural is correct.

As for the rest, whatever. If the creation of a federal, centralized location for "private sector" insurance which directly controls what is in those policies (while handing out subsidies available only through that website) is what you consider "decentralization", we're simply not speaking the same language. It's kind of like that "austerity" thing, a mere mortal like me simply can't understand the technical details of the term.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: 'Bret includes the Big Bang among examples of "decentralization and distribution of information and processes"...'

I sure don't remember writing that post. Maybe I'll have to go back and read some of my old posts - I might learn something! :-)

I suspect that I didn't mean the Big Bang itself, but rather that I meant it to describe extending evolution backwards to the self-organization of the universe as opposed to a deity carefully constructing the whole shebang. But since I don't remember writing that post, I have no idea what I meant and still don't. :-)

Clovis e Adri said...

Bret,

If you meant the universe evolution, OK. My comment was about the Big Bang as the behavior of the cosmological solution as it tends to to t -> 0.


AOG,

OK, I thought my error in plural was in "Republicans".

But you still may wonder why Heritage thought individual mandate was a good idea back then, and now it is pure communism.

You also may still wonder why it makes no splash in the media when a Republican governor does it, but it is the end of the world if a Democrat president tries it too.

But I am only wondering about, really, for your opinion as American, and someone living trhough it, is certainly more important. From afar I only care to check coherence of discourse, and the discourse "socialism is eating us alive!" lacks much consistence, IMO.

erp said...

Bret, whether you said it or not, the Big Bang theory is a masterful concept similar except in scope to the founding documents, to wit, a brilliant plan was set in motion and then left to us to make it work.


Alas the fools in power now are neither deities nor Jefferson and Co. so much the worse for us.

Annoying Old Guy said...

You also may still wonder why it makes no splash in the media when a Republican governor does it, but it is the end of the world if a Democrat president tries it too.

No, because it did make a big splash at the time and during the campaign. It certainly made a big splash in Massachusetts, that is in the region where people were affected. You really find it odd that people in the other 49 states are more concerned about health care changes that affect them rather than someone else?

You might note a slight difference in scope between a state government and the federal government, and that I support subsidiarity / federalism precisely so states can experiment in this way, and not the entire nation.

Or one could note the Massachusetts health care setup was bipartisan, negotiated, and carefully planned. None of which apply to POR-care. Or that the Massachusetts plan shifted costs but didn't revoke existing insurance, and didn't raise costs nearly as much as POR-care.

socialism is eating us alive!

I don't recall that from the original post. Could you point out where that was? But I think that's more plausible than "The only traces of "statism" that are kept intact are basically on welfare".

As for Heritage, everyone makes mistakes. As you have pointed out, the important thing is how they deal with it afterwards and Heritage has corrected itself.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Socialism kills, or why free markets are better for the poor than regulatory / welfare states. What is more important, trying to help or actually helping?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

---
[Clovis] socialism is eating us alive!
[AOG] I don't recall that from the original post. Could you point out where that was?
---
Stop spoiling my hyperbolic figurative language, please :-)


---
[...] and Heritage has corrected itself.
---
How and when?

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

On your link to the Indian economist, do you really think it reasonable if we stop to calculate every country loss due to inefficiency of their whole economic and social systems, as if things were so by whim?

Mr. Aiyar, and you by implicit agreement, sells the idea that every problem could be solved if you just follow his recipe. Such simplistic approaches can be foolish, in the best cases, or dangerously deluded in the worst ones.

Annoying Old Guy said...

Mr. Aiyar, and you by implicit agreement, sells the idea that every problem could be solved if you just follow his recipe

No. You keep reading far more grandiose claims in to my comments than they can support. Or is this more hyperbolic figurative language? I can't tell anymore.

Clovis e Adri said...

AOG,

No, this time I mean it.

We can always compare the reality with hypothetical wanna be situations and conclude that everybody is presently doing everything wrong.

How far did you bother to undersand to what extent India, in Aiyar's example, could be following a different path?

As India's path has a few similarities with my own country's, I can tell you, your comparison is ludicrous.

Annoying Old Guy said...

If you mean it, why don't you point out where I or Mr. Aiyar claims "every problem could be solved if you just follow his recipe".

As India's path has a few similarities with my own country's, I can tell you, your comparison is ludicrous

Where did I compare them?

Hey Skipper said...

The Peruvian economist, Hernando de Soto, has argued in his book, The Mystery of Capital, that the failure of the various socialist experiments of the twentieth century has left mankind with only one rational choice about which economic system to go with, namely, capitalism.

I think Francis Fukuyama got there first. I occasionally stop by socialist blogs, both to reacquaint myself with punishingly leaden writing and marvel at how they advocate overthrowing capitalism and replacing it with [crickets]. They applaud Occupy [fill in the blank] while failing to understand that its quick slide into irrelevancy en route to disappearance was because it hating capitalism isn't enough, there has to be some alternative at hand, as well.

There isn't.

The continued existence of socialism is due to individualism being underdetermined.

There are, in fact, problems for which the best, or only solution, is collective. There are some problems that don't really have a solution, except for time, for which the free market isn't the problem (the CRA comes to mind as an instance of using socialism for a problem the market didn't create, and which led to disaster). The free market cannot solve history, which is the particular problem in South America.

Perhaps the bigger question is how socialist leaders, whether they are in Venezuela or France, can pursue policies that they must know can't possibly work. How can Chavez, or Castro, or the various Kims be completely blind to the consequences of their policies?

Or Obama, for that matter. It is beyond baffling how he could have made those preposterous ACA promises. Unless, all along, the strategy was to tell whatever lie was required, relying upon the complacent MSM (the NYT being a perfect example) to parrot the lies, until the ACA became a fait accomplis.


What mattered for Sorel, in both cases, is not the scientific truth or falsity of the myth believed in, but what believing in the myth does to the lives of those who have accepted it, and who refuse to be daunted by the repeated failure of their apocalyptic expectations.

I'm sorry, I lost the bubble a bit. Was Sorel talking about socialism, or warmenism?

Worse, in a populist democracy, the People have historically demonstrated a knack of picking as their leaders those know the best and most efficient way to by-pass their reason -- demagogues who can reach deep down to their primordial and, alas, often utterly irrational instincts. This, after all, has been the genius of every great populist leader of the past, as it is proving to be the genius of those populist leaders who are now springing up around the world, from Bolivia to Iran.

Journolist, anyone?

Annoying Old Guy said...

Was Sorel talking about socialism, or warmenism?

There's a difference?

how socialist leaders, whether they are in Venezuela or France, can pursue policies that they must know can't possibly work. How can Chavez, or Castro, or the various Kims be completely blind to the consequences of their policies?

I don't understand your question. Those policies worked very well for Chavez, Castro, and Obama. That the poor became poorer, well, what difference, at this point, does that make?

As I noted above, the essential problem is that appearing concerned for the poor, making the right rhetorical flourishes, is for many people far more important than actually making the poor better off.

Harry Eagar said...

Terrorism? Like in Denmark?

I think you guys need to try to think like brown people. They havr known terrorism, and its name was capitalism.

Heck, you don't have to ask brown people. Ask the Irish.

I'd say that terrorism is built into capitalism as we know it, possibly into capitalism in any concept. Whether that is true or not, terrorism is not a concept that can assist in separating political sheep from political goats, which is why I have no time for special pleading.

erp said...

Clovis, the interstate highway system is a combination of state and federal authority because it must be since it traverses from one state to another, for instance, the "I" in I95 means Interstate 95. We also have state roads and country roads, city roads, etc.

I have no idea how Brazil or any other country handles these things, but our Constitution sets it out for us.

BTW - I have been swamped with real life (o/t here, but from another string), so haven't had a chance to jump in everywhere, but I must commend you that five years ago at age 27 (only a few years out of graduate school?) you were sitting at a table in Spain with Nobel prize winners demurring on their delight that Obama was elected president of these United States.

You probably have forgotten that in recent year at least and probably since its inception, the Nobel prize has been tinged with leftwing politics even in the sciences.