How Postmodernism Leads To Fascism (part 2)

[See How Postmodernism Leads To Fascism, part 1.]

We can begin to see that the presuppositions of postmodernism lead us inexorably toward a totalitarian – and ultimately a fascist – state. And yet these philosophical principles are held by a growing number of today’s intellectuals. The fascist ideas of the 1930s and 40s did not begin in the mind of Hitler; rather, they slowly germinated in the minds of German intellectuals until the ideology attained a sufficient following such that a Hitler could ignite his culture.

To be completely clear, the vast majority of postmodernists today do not explicitly advocate totalitarianism, nor do they even want it. On the contrary, they actually intend their positions to be liberating, freeing oppressed groups from the “one truth” view proclaimed by what they suppose to be oppressive cultural forces. But it is extremely difficult to see how their premises could in any way support a free society as the implications of those premises begin to manifest themselves. Clearly, democracy rests on the precise OPPOSITE of postmodernist tenets – on the freedom and dignity of the individual, on the foundation of human values, on the validity of reason, on God rather than the state as the source of all values, on a transcendent moral law that constrains both the tyranny of the state as well as the tyranny of individual passions.

Thoughtful postmodernists are themselves becoming aware of the dangerous political implications of their ideology. Steven Conner recognizes that rejecting universal values leads either to “the adoption by default of the universal principle that might is right; or to the sunny complacency of pragmatism, in which it is assumed that we can never ground our activities in ethical principles which have more force than just saying, “this is the sort of things we do, because it suits us.” (In the end, in fact, the pragmatic option will always turn into the agonistic, since it will only work satisfactorily until somebody refuses to agree with you, or refuses to allow you to disagree with them” (Steven Conner, Postmodernist Culture: An Introduction to Theories of the Contemporary (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989), pp. 243-44).

By “agonistic” Conner means struggle. (And here we arrive at the example of the typical liberal Muslim contextualizer’s blithely muddying the waters with alternative speculations regarding the word “jihad,” even as tens and even hundreds of thousands of “jihadists” openly talk about violence and/or carry out incredibly violent acts). The end result of postmodernism is necessarily violent struggle. The only alternative to transcendent values is a power struggle in which might makes right. Many postmodernists do in fact proudly claim to be pragmatists – they will work to solve particular problems and adjust to life in a flexible way, without any kind of overarching moral code. Conner realizes that pragmatism alone must turn into a power struggle whenever it confronts opposition. Conner notices also “the apocalyptic inheritance from Nietzsche… which suggests that the only form of value is to be found in the embrace of theoretical extremity” (Ibid., p. 212), which is simply another catch phrase for “violence.”

This is to say, postmodernists tend to be extremists. [We see this today in pro-abortion and pro-gay groups, who consistently steer away from objective argumentation and justify their actions simply by saying “it suits us to do this.” Then they employ crushing political and legal power in an attempt to destroy their opponents]. We are seeing such tactics with increasing frequency at universities (which are supposed to be bastions of free speech). The very people and groups who demanded a voice because of the human right to free expression now oppose by any means the right of others to have such freedom. Students are now routinely shouting down invited speakers (such as former California University of California regent Ward Connerly over his stance on affirmative action policies) or use even more aggressive measures to shut down or intimidate speech they oppose. The most terrifying development of all is that universities – once bastions of academic and intellectual freedom – are now themselves routinely shutting down conservative speech as well.

Groups opposing (and oppressing) free speech for conservative-friendly ideas claim that such speakers and organizations are “intolerant,” and thus do not deserve free speech. But they merely demonstrate their own profound intolerance; the conservatives, after all, are doing nothing more than disagreeing with them. The whole point of tolerance has always been to tolerate those with whom you disagree. But such is no longer the case. Now the “tolerant” feel perfectly justified in shouting down and intimidating the right of others to even speak.

While classical Marxism has been discredited in former communist countries, it still appeals to Western intellectuals, partly out of sheer rebellion against their own societies. But theirs is a different form of Marxism from that of Engels and Lenin. Classical Marxism believes that economic change, culminating in socialism, will transform the culture. The new Marxists – following the teachings of Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci – teach that cultural change must precede socialism. Today’s left emphasize cultural change. Changing America’s values is seen as the best means for ushering in the socialist utopia. This is why the Left today champions any cause that undermines traditional moral and cultural values and why leftists gravitate to culture-shaping institutions such as education, the arts, and the media (for influence of Gramsci on the American left, see Carl Boggs, Gramsci’s Marxism (London: Pluto Press, 1976), and S. Steven Powell, Covert Cadre: Inside the Institute for Policy Studies (Ottawa, IL: Green Hill Publishers, 1987).

Post-Marxist radicalism constructs new revolutionary ideologies by replacing Marx’s concern for the oppressed working class with other oppressed groups (such as blacks, women, and gays). Status and moral legitimacy come from being “excluded from power.” The victim has the favored role (see Charles Sykes, A Nation of Victims: The Decay of American Character (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992). As an example of this line of thinking, much current postmodernist thought views racism as a power relation, rather than as an attitude. Since blacks are not and were not in a position of power in America’s racial scheme, they claim, they cannot cause racially disparate effects and thus cannot be racist. No matter how much they might despise or even injure people merely on account of the color of their skin.

Because of the “romance of the marginal,” even affluent university professors cast themselves in the role of victim of oppressive power (take, for example, former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill. This is a man who lied about his resume, lied about his ethnic background to obtain preferential treatment, plagiarized the works of other scholars, routinely engaged in fraudulent un-American hate speech in the name of scholarship; and yet was still held up by the left as a martyr-figure, persecuted for his views). Scholarly papers today quiver with outrage, self-pity, and “theoretical extremity.” To be black, female, or gay is to enjoy a sort of secular sainthood. But even these categories are segmenting and unwinding into ever-smaller sects of victimology. Interestingly, this is a complete reversal of Nietzsche’s “eagle vs. lamb” presentation: on this view, it was weak (and frankly pathetic, on Nietzsche’s view) Christian morality using guilt and shame to attack the superior, essentially postmodernist view that he championed. Today, postmodernists – who embrace Nietzsche’s premises – have made themselves the “lambs” and those advocating Christian morality the “eagles.” That’s a rather fascinating study of self-contradiction in itself, especially given the fact that Christianity today is far less culturally influential than it was during the time that Nietzsche wrote!

Amongst postmodernists, as John Leo reporting on an academic conference at a California University (“Today’s Campus Politics Seems Right Context for Meeting on Rage,” Milwaukee Journal, 6 July 1993, p. A9) “There was a general agreement that America is inherently oppressive and that the only correct response is to organize around group victimization and rage.” Individual groups, fueled by their self-righteous indignation and recognizing no moral constraints beyond the interests of their groups, are not a genuine threat to society beyond the constant threat of terrorism (but consider tree-spiking environmentalist groups and lab-bombing animal rights organizations). However, as an entire movement, postmodernism is exerting its power and influence over society. And once its advocates are able to obtain power, they proceed to use every oppressive means to hold that power and prevent the ones they continue to call “oppressive” from having a voice.

An article in National Review by Allen Levite begins, “Is there a prevailing liberal bias among the major news media? Until now, this has been largely a matter of opinion. Conservatives typically complain of it, while liberals often deny its existence. It is usually admitted, however, that political liberals are much more heavily represented among people working for the major media than among the general public. The well-known study by S. Robert Lichter, Stanley Rothman, and Linda Richter, The Media Elite, based on in-depth interviews with 238 major-media journalists, found that liberals outnumbered conservatives by 54 per cent to 17 per cent. A nationwide Los Angeles Times study (August 11, 1985) administered its own poll to 3,000 reporters and editors and got almost exactly the same result: 55 per cent liberal and 17 per cent conservative. (The Times survey, which also polled 3,000 members of the general public, found that in the latter group 24 per cent were liberal, 29 per cent conservative, and 33 per cent ”neither,” a striking contrast to the findings for journalists.)” The article titled, Bias Basics: the data clearly demonstrate that liberal journalists report the news liberally, proceeds to document just that fact. While a biased media does not itself entail fascism or totalitarianism – which invariably controls the media and uses it for propaganda purposes – it does present yet another troubling sign: a willingness to allow an agenda to prevail over objectivity under the very masquerade of objectivity.

Already free speech (condemned as “B.S.” by the gay activists at the “Rage!” conference) is being restricted on campuses – both by informal pressure and by statute – in the name of sensitivity to aggrieved groups. The anti-democratic implications of postmodernism are evident in the explicit rejection of “free speech” and presumably other human rights (See Stanley Fish, “There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech and It’s a Good Thing, Too” in Debating P.C.: The Controversy over Political Correctness on College Campuses, ed. Paul Barman, (New York: Laurel, 1992)). Stanley Fish, a literary theorist and administrator at Duke University who is at the center of the “politically correct” controversies, argues that universities should censor offensive speech. Fish admits that he has no objective standards by which to judge. Robert Lundin summarizes Fish’s thinking: “Since all principles are preferences – and only preferences – they are nothing but masks for the will to power, which is the ultimate source of what we call “values.” Instead of appealing to authority outside of ourselves, we can only seek to marshal our rhetorical abilities to wage the political battles necessary to protect our own preferences and to prohibit expressions of preference that threaten or annoy us. Fish is candid about the groundlessness of his own beliefs and about his willingness to wage political battles to silence those of whom he disapproves” (Lundin, Culture of Interpretation, p. 25). “Someone is always going to be restricted next,” says Fish, “and it is your job to make sure that someone is not you” (Anderson, Reality Isn’t What It Used to Be, p. 13). In other words, scream first, scream loudest, and be willing to go to any lengths – including violence – in order to obtain your own will to power over and against competing voices.

Arthur Pontynen summarizes the connection between postmodernism and “political correctness” policies on the university campus: “Because there is no wisdom, we are told, there is no such thing as free speech (and policies are put into place to limit free speech on campus). We are told that there is no such thing as individual responsibility and dignity (and policies are advocated which promote the treatment of persons not on the basis of individual merit but on the basis of such restrictive categories as race, gender, and class…). We are even told that there is no such thing as science, only meaningful fictions; that there is no such thing as culture, only paradigms of oppression” (Arthur Pontynen, “Oedipus Wrecks: PC and Liberalism,” Measure, February 1993, p. 2).

[Continue to How Postmodernism Leads To Fascism, part 3.]

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6 Responses to “How Postmodernism Leads To Fascism (part 2)”

  1. Thomas Jackson Says:

    I find it fascinating that you can understand elements of fascism and then, instead of confronting actual fascist policies being implemented by people who masquerade as “conservatives,” you make a comical leap to tag gay people, feminists, environmentalists, and black people as groups actively pursuing an ideology that “leads to fascism.”

    You can abide “free speech zones,” people being thrown out of public meetings for wearing buttons or t-shirts, people being arrested because they spoke to someone else in a bookstore about something they didn’t like, but if a so called conservative wants to rant about having a right to be intolerant and the people he is talking to tell him to go to hell, then that’s an infringement of free speech!

    This kind of thinking persists within the fascist movement. Corporatists think they have a “right” to run the country like a corporation, and if the constitution contradicts that, well, then they’ll just declare they can interpret the constitution themselves! In case you think I’m making this up, I can assure you that every usurption of legislative, judicial and sovereign powers by Herr Bush and Company has been documented.

    We are not fooled by latter statements contradicting former statements, and in the age of mass distribution of archived video, it’s not something that can be quietly glossed over or forgotten.

    It’s ridiculous to assert that gay people petitioning for their rights, or women asserting their right to use their body to nurture a fetus to maturity OR NOT, or black people demanding their equal rights after slavery and segregation, or envirnmentalists monkeywrenching destruction of the environment are ALL part of some kind of epistemiological movement that has in common, an inexorable imposition of fascism.

    While you rant about academics wrangling over the boundaries of tolerance and intimidation, the REAL FASCISTS are busy dismantling the republic. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, eh?

  2. Thomas Jackson Says:

    How about suspension of habeas corpus?

    How about the Attorney General testifying before the Senate, with a smirk on his face, that the clause about habeas corpus doesn’t guarantee that all people have that right, so the government can pick and choose who has it?

    How about the Attorney General and and unelected appointee (Karl Rove) conspiring to politicize the Justice Dept, so they can get rid of US Attorneys who have more loyalty to the Constitution than they do to the president? You know, install more poeople who are team players, willing to engage in malicious prosecutions?

    How about Halliburton’s contracts to build concentration camps?

    Gonzales” program to fill those camps with mass arrest policies (Operation Falcon)?

    How about setting up torture shops all over the world?

    How about merger of corporate and government power, appointing sitting corporate board members to government policymaking panels, which is a policy borrowed from Mussolini?

    I could go on and on and on and on describing the fascist policies embraced by the neocons, favoring their corporatist, fascist allies.

    I could detail the historical origins of fascism, showing that it is the kind of corporate power system that we see at work today which led to historical fascist regimes we usually reference in defining fascism.

    But, no. Let’s not do that. Let’s instead call liberals and groups using the democratic process to secure their rights fascists instead. It’s not the brazenly fascist policies of people who occupy the same kinds of positions of power that historical fascists used to install fascist regimes who are the greatest threat to the republic. Instead, it’s a tenous tie between text deconstruction and campus politics that deserves our attention.

    It’s insulting.

  3. Michael Eden Says:

    Seeing your lengthy replies to each of these articles, let me ask you: does the term “human fire hydrant” mean anything to you?

    In a line from Real Genius, “There are a lot of decaffinated brands on the market that are just as tasty as the real thing.”

    I’m sorry you find Abraham Lincoln, whom many Americans regarded as our greatest president, such a fascist.

    Unlike President Bush, who never has CLEARLY never done any such thing, Lincoln actually DID suspend habeus corpus.

    I’ll leave with that and let my articles stand, as you clearly have a skewed and deeply flawed understanding of both the present and the past (which should inform the present).

  4. Thomas Jackson Says:

    What nonsense!

    Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during a time of rebellion, when the Capitol was in danger of being overrun by armed forces.

    Apparently, you are completely ignorant of the aggressive actions taken by Bush to test his ability to strip people of their rights at will. You should read more. Then you’ll understand what’s happening when we throw him in jail.

    Is that short enough?

  5. Michael Eden Says:

    Apparently so: President Bush has never suspended Habeus corpus (i.e. the demand for evidence to be presented in order to convict suspects of crimes in a court of law). I can tell you from personal experience: I had to serve on a jury just a few months ago. We still had habeus corpus, and the judge didn’t seem to think it was all that incredible that it was still intact as he provided jury instructions.

    Now, just to avert your need to post again, I’ll guess that you are referring to Gitmo, in which detainees from Afghanistan and Iraq are being held.

    1) This is analogous to prisoners of war. We didn’t hold trial for POWs; we detained them until the end of the war. Unfortunately, a war on terror is an undeclared war by non-uniformed killers that can go on and on and on. It is a problem that our history has never had to deal with.

    2) The Geneva Conventions MUST be limited to uniformed combatants of a specific nation state in an act of declared war, or the global system will devolve into non-uniformed terrorists committing acts of terror and then demanding their “rights.” Why put troops in uniform? Why not just send a bunch of killers in civilian clothing to murder and terrorize from within the crowds?

    3) In that vein, if we offered a jury trial for every one of these terror suspects, we would have to bring all relevant witnesses to the US; we would have to reveal our most secret programs and lose our tactical advantages; we would have to spend billions and billions of dollars. It would bleed us dry. It would be easier to surrender and wait for the knife to saw our throats.

    3) One of the little known facts of Gitmo is that most of the detainees there are NOT WANTED by their governments. We are holding on to them because we can’t let them go, and no one will accept these dangerous people.

  6. Thomas Jackson Says:

    You should read the Military Commissions Act. It grants the authority to suspend habeas corpus for anyone and leaves it up tothe discretion of the president. The MCA is entirely unconstitutional, and it formulates into law a tribunal system that the Supreme Court has ruled IS unconstitutional.

    It applies broadly, not just to the prisoners at Gitmo. we have seen repeated test cases by the bush Administration, attempting to overthrow the rule of law with regard to detention and due process, both at home and abroad.

    Bush has wrongly argued, through fascist Federalist Society lawyers, that the rights we have in the United States are limited to American citizens, and aren’t human rights. It’s a proposterous argument that undermines our influence all over the world, and gives comfort to fascists and dictators.

    Bush also wrongly argues that prisoners under American jurisdiction, are not under the jurisdiction of the constitution. What nonsense! If Bush has the authority to arrest them and detain them, he must derive that power from the constitution, or he doesn’t have it.

    Bush argues that detainees are prisoners of war, and therefore don’t deserve due process, and then argues that they aren’t POWs, and therefore the Geneva Convention doesn’t apply to them. Bush is a liar, plain and simple.

    You’re complaints about how much it would cost to try the people in Gitmo is entirely laughable. You argue that providing due process for human beings will break the bank, but also argue that an illegal occupation costing us hundreds of billions of dollars is justifiable. There IS not a national security interest in occupying Iraq, there WAS not a national security interest in invading and occupying Iraq, and there will not BE a national security interest in occupying Iraq, once we rid ourselves of the Nazi-policy emulator who is on borrowed time as we speak.

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