The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

23 February 2003

Not to be confused with post-premillennial

Legal Bean Dennis Rogers seeks a return to pre-postmodernism.

Uh, say what?

[W]hereas a postmodernist liberal would attempt to achieve equality by admonishing all types of "superiority thinking" or "hierarchical thinking" and embracing a fragmented view of reality that negates the concepts of worth and meaning, pre-postmodern, conservative thinking, embraces equality as a moral good, thus rejecting the idea of moral equivalence.

Whence these fragments?

...the postmodern embrace of a destructured, decentered reality as an embrace of "fragmentation." This belief in a fragmented reality is the foundation for multi-culturalism — a belief that no one culture is better or superior, worse or inferior, to another. What a great world eh?

Lefty postmodernists philosophically embrace the idea of fragmentation, incoherence and meaningless of human institutions for a particular purpose — to achieve equality — race equality, gender equality, religious equality, etc.

Gotcha. I think. Although I think it might be simpler — or at least more simplistic, which is not quite the same thing — than that: the Left posits that there are the oppressed, and there are the oppressors, and your personal membership depends upon whether you can be identified as a member of an Officially Oppressed Group. As a practical matter, this means almost anyone other than a white male of European descent. (Exceptions are made for political purposes; for instance, Condoleezza Rice, PhD, currently the National Security Advisor to the President, is grouped with the Oppressors despite being unwhite, unmale and unEuropean, because she doesn't accept the definitions imposed by the Left.)

Of course, in real life, what they seek is not equality: it is equivalence. If the Oppressors make, say, $40,000 a year per capita, then the government must impose a means of providing $40,000 a year per capita for the Oppressed.

No one with any knowledge of history denies that once there was a horrible creature named Jim Crow whose intentions were not at all egalitarian. There is, I think, a place for adjustments here and tweaking there, to compensate for those times when the laws themselves were biased. But the spirit of true equality demands that there be some limit on those adjustments. Should they become permanent, become part of the law, they revive Jim Crow; they merely tilt his beak toward a different set of targets.

I believe the Bean would agree on this point.

Posted at 4:28 PM to Political Science Fiction

A number of things: First, I can’t believe you actually read through that post. Even I had trouble making sense of it after I wrote it. Kudos.

Second, I know there has to be a better term than “pre-postmodern,” but I’m not sure what it is. It at least conveyed the meaning that I intended. Plus, I heard someone smarter than me use it once. :-)

Third, I do indeed agree with your point that the left favors and seeks government imposition of economic equivalence for the Oppressed or Formerly Oppressed. However, I see that particular tenet of the left as based on their view of what is fundamentally fair when it comes to economics – socialistic redistribution of wealth.

Whether successful or not, I was attempting to address a more narrow issue – the left’s embrace of relativity as the fundamental source of moral equivalence – and moral equivalence as the justification for eliminating hierarchies based on race, gender, religion or whatever. No doubt I could’ve been more clear about that.

My thesis is that a world without moral equivalencies requires the same result – equality of race and gender – but as a moral, affirmative good.

Not having studied much economics, I’m not sure whether or not postmodern thinking has any direct relationship with the economic theories behind socialism or communism.

Posted by: Dennis Rogers at 8:27 PM on 23 February 2003

One tenet of postmodernism as I understand it specifies that theory and practice are mostly independent of one another. If nothing else, this would explain how so many people cling to some semblance of Marxist doctrine despite the fact that everywhere it's been implemented, it's failed. It's as though the Real World™ doesn't constitute a fair test.

One problem with the left-wing moral equivalence standard is that it's inconsistent; its own protected groups are, by definition, on a higher (certainly different) moral plane than everyone else, but cultures outside our own are given the same exalted status. I finally figured out that it's not because they include members of the favored — they need not — but because they don't include members of the disfavored.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:25 PM on 23 February 2003

"I finally figured out that it's not because they include members of the favored — they need not — but because they don't include members of the disfavored."

Which fits the oft-stated view that today's Left isn't really so much interested in making everyone equally prosperous, happy, or anything else positive -- but equally impoverished, squalid, miserable, etc.

I'd say that's actually a concession to the harsh reality that bad things can be spread much more widely than good things.

Posted by: Kevin McGehee at 7:36 AM on 24 February 2003

Actually, the term for pre-postmodern is modern, and that period started sometime after the Renaissance, reached its peak during the Enlightenment, and began to crumble as soon as someone coined the term "Existentialism." (Or maybe it was when the Beatles made it big; I forget.) Which is why "modern" does not mean the same thing as "contemporary," or "the latest fashion," despite what interior decorators and fashion designers would have us think.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 8:08 AM on 24 February 2003