In this series of blog posts I have tried to show throughout this essay that the postmodernist ideology is anti-philosophical and anti-human. Like most things that are mindlessly destructive, it can arise and lurk in dark corners where it hides out of sight, but it cannot survive the sunshine that is the scrutiny of reason and reasonableness. I have tried to show that the inherent clash of postmodernism with reality and with a rational scientific method consistent with mankind’s cognitive structure and requirements make any attempt to live by the theory and dictates of postmodernism self-contradictory and thus self-destroying.
Unfortunately, as we are already experiencing, this cognitive malignancy is able to reap a path of destruction of people, property, and evolving social institutions that benefit individuals and societies. Whether such individuals can come back to reason and successfully rehabilitate their cognitive practices, premises and conclusions remains to be seen.
There have been some positive developments recently as people begin to feel the push from the irrational fringes, understand what is at stake, and start to push back with authentic, rational, and objective moral conviction.
Dr. Michael Rectenwald, former Professor of Liberal Studies at New York University and a victim of postmodernist wrath, notes in his essay “A Critique of ‘Social Justice’ Ideology: Thinking through Marx and Nietzsche” in Beyond Woke:
Since social justice ideology depends on anti-realist postmodern epistemological doctrines, it will be opposed by scientists and science advocates—and by all believers in real, material object world, however grasped. These will recognize that the postmodern inflected social justice epistemology amounts to a denial of the material world as well as of the scientific means for knowing about it. The social justice charlatans will be exposed for what may amount to a giant Sokal Hoax perpetrated on the entire social order.Rectenwald, Beyond Woke, Chapter 12
It is imperative that rational people not ignore the challenges advocates of postmodern theory imposes on our relatively tranquil and peaceful lives and the foundational social and political institutions we have developed to maintain and sustain the good lives we lead. Advocates of postmodern theory and practice have no desire for tranquil, peaceful, and orderly change. What they seem to fantasize about and desire when theory is converted to practice is violent revolution and the use of political power to control and plunder others.
Dr. Bret Weinstein is an evolutionary biologist and former professor at Washington State’s Evergreen College. He was at the center of controversy in 2017 when he was vilified and persecuted by a postmodern-trained mob of professors, faculty and students. He reflects on the postmodernist movement and its impact in The Hunted Individual, a 2017 documentary film by Mike Nagna, about what transpired at Evergreen and how the postmodernist ideology manifests itself in practice. Watch the documentary. It is a fascinating sociological study on so many levels. You will not be bored. (https://youtu.be/2vyBLCqyUes).
22:07 Bret Weinstein: I have to say I keep being invited to talk about free speech on college campuses and every time I’m invited I make the same point: which is this isn’t about free speech and this only tangentially about college campuses. This is about a breakdown in the basic logic of civilization, and it’s spreading. The college campuses may be the first dramatic battle but of course this is going to find its way into the courts. It’s already found its way into the tech sector. It’s going to find its way to the highest levels of governance if we’re not careful, and it actually does jeopardize the ability of civilization to continue to function.
Mike Nagna: How has it gotten to this point?
Bret Weinstein: In part, it has gotten to this point because we let it fester. These ideas were wrong when they first took hold in the academy, and instead of shutting them down we created phony fields that act as a kind of analytical affirmative action where ideas that do not deserve to survive are given sustenance. These ideas are so toxic and so ill-conceived that to the extent they are allowed to hold sway, as if one truth is equal to every other truth, right – my truth is as good as your truth – to the extent that that idea is allowed to pervade other institutions on which civilization depends, civilization will come apart. So we have to fight this. And don’t get the sense that it’s just about college campuses or kids over-reacting because that ain’t what this is. This is far more important than that.
Dr. Gad Saad is a psychologist and professor of Marketing at Concordia University in Montreal, and author of the book The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas are Killing Common Sense. His research leads him to concur with Weinstein’s observations and warnings:
Ideological Stalinism is the daily reality on North American college campuses. Any freedom-loving person should be appalled by this, and yet most academics yawn in complicit apathy and cowardly inaction. … Why should people in a free country be afraid of saying what they believe? Think about that, and you will know the direction that the “progressives” want to take us.Saad, The Parasitic Mind, P. 45
Given the search for and celebration of contradictions and irrationality inherent in the postmodernist method and thought, it’s hard to believe that there could be any accepted postmodernist notion of correctness, as in a single or accepted norm of what is correct and enforced through doctrine and coercion under the label political correctness.
Michael Rectenwald, an ex-Marxist and Marxism scholar, provides some history of where the term political correctness came from in his recent book Beyond Woke. Its earliest appearance appears to be from a Soviet source circa 1921 where politicheskaya korrectnost (political correctness) was a term used to describe “correct” thinking (PM as a political incarnation and movement is about mind control and forced obedience after all). Rectenwald writes:
As expected, its author was none other than the the primary architect of the Bolshevik revolution, Vladimir Lenin. Lenin’s promotion and later enforcement of political correctness followed from his notion of partiinost, or party spirit, which also stood for “party truth,” or the correct interpretation of the world and everything in it. After the revolution, political correctness was enforced by the Soviet terror. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s Red Guard later adopted and adapted “autocritique,” a technique for the enforcement of political correctness, while adding “struggle sessions” for good measure.Michael Rectenwald, Beyond Woke, Chapter 11
One doesn’t have to look far to see these same totalitarian coercive techniques and mind control methods being utilized more brazenly by today’s postmodernists with their totalitarian political utopian aspirations.
Those whose minds have been virus-laden are like the “best” students of Dr. Pritchett (the philosophy professor in Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged quoted in Part 10). The good students of irrational ideologies are accepting of the anti-reason message, but the “best” students will internalize and commit to the disparagement of reason as they have been taught as proper.
Accepting that irrationality is humankind’s proper cognitive state, the best students will be the ones who go on to spread the meme and advocate for others to do the same. Because they elect to forgo the responsibility to think for themselves as independent agents, by default they are left to seek out the content they are expected to think and the actions they are expected to follow in the realm of postmodernism ideology from others to whom such second-handers become dependent (tell me what to think, tell me what to do, and I will humbly follow and obey your enlightened guidance).
Like members of a cult, the passive-minded followers of postmodern ideological leaders become indoctrinated sycophants seeking out other like-minded companions to prove their social virtue and commitment to revolution through public displays of conformity aimed to please these mystic leaders.
In the case of postmodernism as political ideology, we have seen both a crusade to subvert reason and demand conformity to revolutionary political correctness (including autocritique through mandatory identity reeducation classes). We see this primarily in government funded institutions including schools and civil service infrastructure, but also in private sector commercial enterprises, particularly media, through time-tested communistic techniques such as deplatforming (removal of those who disagree with the required orthodoxy) and cancelling (economic persecution and black-listing of dissenters) those deemed to be subversive to the ruling political class in expressing non-approved “official” facts and points of view.
What it amounts to is a quiet blanket of subtle and not-so-subtle fear and existential terror through physical and psychological guilt-inducing coercive tactics against those who seek to live their lives rationally and with stability in accordance with the requirements of human life and nature.
It comes down to a choice of whether you are on the modernist side of objective reality, reason, rational self-interest, individual rights, freedom, voluntary cooperation, and wealth creation; or the postmodernist opposite of constructed reality, emotional primacy over reason, contradictions, pursuit of conflict, collective rights, sacrifice-worship, tribalism, and wealth destruction.
Hopefully by the time you read this in book form the case is settled for reality, reason, and individual rights, and that postmodernism will have been rejected and discarded as a discredited ideology and pseudo-science.
I hope that the youth of today who have been indoctrinated and cheated of a proper education by revolutionary-ambitious charlatans will be able to properly reset their path in life upon the road to discovering personal meaning, self-fulfillment, and happiness.
Some video resources for further insight about Postmodernism on the march:
1. Critical Race Theory: On the New Ideology of Race, Manhattan Institute, 2020. https://youtu.be/ZuvhrXM3v7U
2. Tom Woods Show, “Deplorable NYU Professor Wins Victory Over SJWs,” 2016. https://youtu.be/GmCHtaKqHn8
3. Comedians Call Out PC/Cancel Culture, 2020. https://youtu.be/p1ISlncjCbU
4. Woke Movie Warnings, Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO), 2021. https://youtu.be/YapmWpPO2AM
© 2021, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved
Barry Linetsky is a Partner with The Strategic Planning Group in Toronto, Canada, where he and his colleagues have been helping executives and owners define and align their business purpose with customer values since 1994. Barry is the author of the acclaimed business biography The Business of Walt Disney and the Nine Principles of His Success (Theme Park Press). His two most recent books, Understanding and Creating Vision and Mission Statements and Understanding and Creating Strategic Performance Indicators and Business Scenarios, co-authored with Dobri Stojsic, are available from amazon. The third book in the series Understanding and Creating Critical Success Factors will be available soon. Barry’s thought-leadership articles have been published by Ivey Business Journal, Rotman Magazine, Mises Wire, and the Economist Intelligence Unit in conjunction with Harvard Business School. Barry is also a writer, researcher, analyst, photographer, and business strategy enabler. Read his blog and learn more at barrylinetsky.com. Follow him on Twitter @BizPhilosopher.