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Thread: Postmodernism need not also be post-truth, yet, a la Trump, it is....and that's the problem.

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    Postmodernism need not also be post-truth, yet, a la Trump, it is....and that's the problem.

    In Achieving Our Country (AOC), Richard Rorty may explain something that baffles many -- namely, how someone like Donald Trump could become the POTUS in the 21st century. Its prophetic and therefore anachronistic nature, as well it's couching in an attempt to elucidate a different dilemma -- how the American Left had lost its luster in the 20th century's second half -- constrains Rorty's explanation, however. Indeed, per Rorty, from 1964 on, the the emergence of a "cultural Left" steeped in academic sensitivity and focused on advocating for recognition of historic oppression of minorities, women, and people whom we now identify as LGBTQ+ sundered the Left.

    The cultural Left, Rorty says, "thinks more about stigma than money, more about deep and hidden psychosexual motivations than about shallow and evident greed," (AOC, p. 77) thus parting from what Rorty calls a "reformist Left" engaged "in the business of piecemeal reform within the framework of a market economy." (AOC, p. 105) In AOC, as the cultural Left helped hoist voices of underrepresented communities, it too yielded Whitman's "common dreams" along with the US' aim of becoming "the world’s first classless society." (AOC, p. 8) Rorty further suggests this schism caused the Left as a whole to abjure effectively addressing inequality via public policy because the academic cultural Left focused instead on articulating visions of participatory democracy and theorizing hegemonic oppression. (AOC, p. 82 & 84) Ultimately, for Rorty, the cultural Left succumbed to engaging in the politics of spectatorship while the solution lay in rekindling politics of collective action, building an alliance between the intellectual Left, the labor movement, and the working classes. He therefore proposed returning to an egalitarian reformist agenda articulated within the myth of American solidarity, focusing on a People’s Charter that would call for campaign finance reform, universal health care, more funding for K–12 education, and increased taxation of the very rich. (AOC, p. 99)

    Amid the Democratic Party's thundering debate between its moderate and radical wings, it is no surprise that some today find Rorty's strategic analysis and recommendation re: the US political landscape prescient and even potentially useful. However, in spite (or perhaps because) of Rorty being something of an intellectual hero, applauding his foresight regarding the undoing of the democratic settlement in America animates a problematic understanding of his own role in the unfolding crisis of progressive liberalism. Why? Crucially, because framing much of its political project within the rhetoric of post-truth politics abetted Trumpism's rise. Moreover, Trumpism's incessantly, expressly and tacitly fulminating strong standards of truth echoes Rorty’s recurrent assaults -- from the Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature onwards -- on epistemological standards to advocate the idea that "knowledge," "facts of the matter," or "rational justification" can be anything more than the product of local justificatory practices. In other words, elite rhetoric relating to post-truth politics echoes significant aspects of Rorty’s wider philosophical project, a project he once called "postmodernist bourgeois liberalism." In fact, this connection between Trump and his acolytes' style of doing politics and postmodernism is already the object of media discussion.1

    Perhaps the most notable commentaries on this issue come from Daniel Dennett and Andrew Perrin. In a February 2017 interview, Dennett said:

    Maybe people will now begin to realise that philosophers aren’t quite so innocuous after all. Sometimes, views can have terrifying consequences that might actually come true.I think what the postmodernists did was truly evil. They are responsible for the intellectual fad that made it respectable to be cynical about truth and facts.

    In contrast, Perrin maintains that "[t]he indictments of postmodernism are based on a shallow caricature of the theory and an exaggerated estimation of its effects." We may thus ask: Has the intellectual movement that is postmodernism played a role in the rise of post-truth politics?



    Note:
    1. See the following:
    Those who jettison the epistemological standards of science are no longer in a position to use their intellectual product to make any claims about what is true of the world or to dispute the others’ claims about what is true. - Tooby & Cosmides
    The lion does not turn around when a small dog barks. -- African Proverb

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    Re: Postmodernism need not also be post-truth, yet, a la Trump, it is....and that's the problem.

    We are rapidly becoming prototypes of a people that totalitarian monsters could only drool about in their dreams. All the dictators up to now have had to work hard at suppressing the truth. We, by our actions, are saying that this is no longer necessary, that we have acquired a spiritual mechanism that can denude truth of any significance. In a very fundamental way we, as a free people, have freely decided that we want to live in some post-truth world.
    -- Steve Tesich


    In this post-truth world we are left to live in a gray and fuzzy moral universe with few absolutes and a "cozy universal appeal," since it justifies and sanctions moral mediocrity. Here, we are bound to wander aimlessly between confusion and quiescence.
    Those who jettison the epistemological standards of science are no longer in a position to use their intellectual product to make any claims about what is true of the world or to dispute the others’ claims about what is true. - Tooby & Cosmides
    The lion does not turn around when a small dog barks. -- African Proverb

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    Re: Postmodernism need not also be post-truth, yet, a la Trump, it is....and that's the problem.

    DP members astound me. In a thread/OP that has political "red meat" for conservatives and liberals, from both, "crickets." Amazing....
    Those who jettison the epistemological standards of science are no longer in a position to use their intellectual product to make any claims about what is true of the world or to dispute the others’ claims about what is true. - Tooby & Cosmides
    The lion does not turn around when a small dog barks. -- African Proverb

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