To enable us to discuss the concept of postmodernism as a culture and whether politics has found its way to it, it would be prudent for us to explain the concepts herein albeit keeping in mind that the term postmodernism has generated a lot of debate among social scientist and is still not well understood in the public realm. Another major issue is whether there is a clear cut line between postmodernism and modernism. It is true that the concept of postmodernism presumes the time that came before it: modernism. Beyond modernism there was pre-modernism. Well, this is history (Sheppard, 2000).
Modernism refers to the time in the western world history when the world underwent great innovations. These changes came to effect with the modification of the way man viewed his environment. Many historical factors played a major role in the recognition of a need to rethink the way of thinking and the subsequent events that followed it. The First World War was only a single part that led to modernism. Since the war had destructive effects throughout the world, many people then disembarked in adoption of new technology as a response. Another idea that led to modernism was the recurrent breakthrough in science and technology which brought changes in beliefs and conception of individuals. The dominance of the western ideologies for a long time in history now became questionable and faced threats of being reversed. New disciplines emerged to counteract the old traditional viewpoints (Cullenberg & Amariglio, 2001).
This essay will look at the contemporary cultural analysis of the postmodern culture as being without politics. It is an in-depth analysis of a postmodern sensibility through the key functions of the media among others such as situated, mediated by popular cultures, and its interrelatedness to politics. Postmodern culture has had a lot of effects in the current state of affairs. There have been several changes in the past half century with philosophy being the most altered in the science of man sphere. We are living in a postmodern world since we have come from the modern times where politics were the order of the day. In the postmodern era, there is a heavy reliance on information technology in not only human communication but other areas as well (Erickson, 2001).
Pre-modernism, modernism and postmodernism
Prior to the 17Th century, the Western societies thought that the supernatural being provided the foundation for proper and complete conduct, sagacity, man’s seemliness as well as certainty. The overarching reasoning was that the supernatural being was the only source of providence such that if someone was to be prudent and learn things, he or she would have to look upon it. It was believed that God was the only giver of all things: material or immaterial. This era encapsulates the pre-modernism (Hicks, 2004).
The following era was that of modernism. This period saw the emergence of the most influential thinker of all time. They shaped the way others comprehend the world by exercising rationality rather than the convention that relied in the unchallengeable unknown for direction and guidance of man. For instance, Descartes was overly concerned with ideological cynicism and the religious vagueness at the time. He decided to change the way of thinking and seek the unqualified definite comprehension about the social man. He thus ascertained that since he was skeptical he was thinking. Such skepticism eliminated God in the seeking of truth and installed man as an absolute decider of his destiny (Shawver, 2006).
This became the beginning of the European illumination. This epoch was marked with buoyancy as regards to human prospects and possibilities in which rationality was emphasized while religious principles were given a wide berth. This is only a single break from the dependence on the supernatural to the reality that human being was capable of reckoning and distinction. Alongside rationalism, the emergence of Romanticism (which heavily relied on human emotions), Marxism as well as Nazism among other idealistic systems wanted to shift away from believe in supernatural which was regarded as the foundation of perception and existence. However these views are currently being disputed by postmodernists.
The apprehension that followed the World Wars left modernism in poor shape. The assurance that human advancement and self-sufficiency would always provide solutions faded. The war between the axis and the axes almost became catastrophic to the very human existence. The schemes which had promised harmony based on reason became repressive of other ways of thinking especially capitalism. These schemes did not facilitate the yearning for a sustained explanation of human life. Then, the place of the supernatural had been long forgotten but a worldwide certainty and probity did not exist either (Bertens, 1997).
Jean- François Lyotard retorted as to whether authenticity would succeed the rationalistic ideals. He foresaw the emergence of postmodernism and further described it as a disbelief of the meta-narratives. In essence he meant that people were now fed up with modernism and its promises were in doubt. That is to say that postmodernism was a new way of thinking which was wary of the grand illustrative conjectures. Postmodernism too is unconvinced about the standpoints which fronts themselves as impartial, fair or balanced. Therefore postmodernism established itself as the only alternative that would integrate both pre-modernism and modernism. It ascertained itself as a new way of thinking since either way there had to be a break from tradition (Winfield, 2007).
Merold Westphal views modernism as being typified by the pursuit of complete conviction of man and totalism. Totalism is an all accepting ideology- a metanarrative. He says that the proponents of modernism endeavored to build some big fairy tales which excluded God authority on human pacification with itself, liberty and advancement. From these arguments it can be said that the ideals that modernism upheld were no longer relevant to the changing times and needs. Its failure had stemmed from the inability to give a justification of the clashes between its schools of thought. Its schemes were clashing and at the same time creating a moral vacuum. Mankind was no longer at a conciliatory mood with its way of thinking which was supposed to do away with the belief of a supernatural being.
To put things in perspective, let us separate and put the two notions of modernism and postmodernism side by side. Whereas modernism wanted to put together all the methods of explanations and thinking, postmodernism embraces the fact human activities and needs employ rationales as justifications to reach their attainment. It further postulates that truth is anything which seeks to advance man’s quests or exploits. In other words, postmodernism says that humanity will always find a justification for its deeds, good or bad. This means that even if an action can violate the rights of others or inconsistent with the common practice, the doer will all the time give a good reason for it (Council on Tall Buildings, 2002).
For this premise therefore, a political agenda is ever present in anything that man holds to be factual. This is true as far as human conduct is queer in all perspectives. For instance a thief can justify his deed of stealing may be by citing unemployment whereas a preacher can base his teachings on the reward of eternity as promised by the Bible. For all intents and purposes, this is postmodernism at play. Man can lay claim on either the supernatural influence or his own deliberation for the wrong and right he executes.
The second strand explicating postmodernism maintains that knowledge is partial. This assertion borrows heavily from the interpretive distrust allied to forward thinker who sought to uninstall modernism. The reality that often escapes our grasp is that everyone has an opinion and there cannot be a consensus on any matter however trivial it is. Postmodernism is clear on the impossibility of unadulterated detachment of our notions and reasoning from the social conditioning we have undergone over time. We are inseparable from our past. Man will always be informed by the prior exposure. This means that a wholesome suggestion of modernism to emancipate man is irrelevant (Greer, 2003).
Characteristics of postmodernism
The first attribute of postmodernism is its anti-dualistic position. Modernism, as is seen by postmodernists ended up classifying the world’s ideologies as being right and wrong. This barred other points of view from coming to light. Postmodernism recognizes and endorses pluralism together with multiplicity of viewpoints rather than the juxtaposition that preceded it. It yearns for a free thinking existence which avails the possibility of many positions on any matter in hand. It searches for the opportunity to speak for the marginalized and the subjugated under the modernistic society. In other words postmodernism wants to level the playing ground in which all thoughts can be incorporated (Bak, 2007).
Secondly, it explains that truth is an issue that regards outlook and circumstances instead of adopting an overarching principle than delineates others. This means that man is not capable of realizing veracity and should accept things as they seem to be. It further seeks to urge man not to look for explanations for the intricate and incomprehensible things like existence. It accepts that man’s judgment of phenomena is wrought in eternity and shrouded in mystery. If any inquiry into existence and the origin of man pieced together with his search for knowledge is to yield any fruits then the supernatural itself has to come into play. In short, we are trapped in our thinking and that our reasoning is cyclical and varies from person to person.
Similarly, postmodernism regards the written word of any genre as neither possessing an innate influence nor a cause in furthering its creator’s purpose and cannot explain the past. They instead put forward the creator’s foregone conclusions, ways of living and epochs. With this in mind, we should consider that any literary work represents the creator’s views and therefore should not be imposed on supplementing the current search for understanding as well as impartiality. Real truth is non-existent so is no authority supreme over another.
Lastly, it emphasizes the role that language plays in our philosophies and stresses its importance in directing human communication and interaction. It calls for a unification of language so that any expression, small or big, could find its way to acceptance. This is with a view of harmonizing ideas, ideal or otherwise. The postmodernists claim that language produces truth. Truth is shaped and not open. Many philosophers have attempted to define the truth in many fashions, with some conflicting (Greer, 2003).
So far postmodernism have been successful in critically assessing modernism. But questions abound as to whether one can take a single standpoint as supreme. Postmodernism in itself is not straight in its arguments. For instance it rejects the truth while not offering solutions. One can also say that in as far as postmodernism snubs the notion of the absolute truth, how can it refute a thing which does not exist. While it does not accept the meta-narratives’ ideologies, there is a possibility that it may be a form of a grandiose explication (Dear, 2000).
Social and political implications of the postmodern shift
The economic philosophy that came along with postmodernism displaced the ideals of Marxism and Socialism by setting up capitalism. Under Marxism, the ideologies of the owner of capital rule the order of the day. Other just owned nothing but their labor. The interaction is purely on the basis of ownership of resources. This creates the classification of a society into classes. Essentially the society has three classes: the ruling, the workers and the bourgeoisie. On the other hand, Socialism seeks to redistribute wealth from the hands of few individuals to the rest of the society. This system disregards any mobility and individual accomplishments. Consequently, it encourages laziness as hard work is not recognized and is limited by the overreaching arm of the government. Capitalism sought to move away from the two economic systems.
Capitalism base its premises on the idea that government control is basically unhealthy for market since it polices the prices and the contract terms as well as leveling the ground for non-deserving competitors. In the true spirit of capitalism, the market is supposed to regulate itself and therefore government’s intervention is unwarranted. The advent of capitalism brought immense changes to the society but on negative side, it created economic rifts. In the end there were two classes in the society: the haves and the have-nots. As a result of this, the socio-economic equity became unachievable (Shawver, 2006).
Further from the mainstream capitalism grew consumer and producer capitalism. Producer capitalism is principally rooted in the notion that whilst producers assemble all the factors of production, in is upon them to optimize the output by employing technology (the means by which they would combine the inputs). From the revenues, costs can be deducted to determine profits. From the realized gains, some will be retained to be reinvested in the business as component of current capital while the rest are paid to the shareholders. Consumer capitalism on the other hand refers to the idea that any consumer in the market would approach with the mindset that the money he or she allocate for expenditure can yield the highest possible utility. In essence, with a given budget what is the possible utility attainable? It emphasizes consumer rationality over the choices of the commodities to be purchased (Malpas, 2005).
Postmodern culture is in reaction to the modern politics in a manner which supersedes it in the view and actions on things surrounding us. Postmodernist have actually distance themselves from the modern way of operations and the olden days with regards to politics. Politics have not been highlighted in the postmodern world but there are several means through which politics are being portrayed. Postmodern culture has given the limelight of being the super in terms of culture and mode of operations and handling of upcoming issues. Technology has been the key in propelling the advancement in the postmodern culture. The postmodern culture also covers the economic concepts.
Politics in the postmodern culture has been decreasing since the end of the modern periods. This has been witnessed in current postmodern where there is no politics at all. Political associations have been in pursuit of the historical intervention so as to modify it but it has been a passive momentum. This is because the politics have been considered to be derailing the progress of the society since they tend to divert the society into a socialist type. There is also issue of the political group desiring to channel the past fantasies which is considered to be regressive institutionalization of the past. There is little which can be transferred from the past to the postmodern culture which is well equipped with the addiction images. Any attempts to convert the past into image optical illusion, typecast, or manuscript, will definitely eliminate all the intentions of real logic of expectations and of the joint development. This leaves the thoughts of expected transformation to fantasies of pure devastation or calamity and mysterious disasters from hallucination of terrorism, in regards to social heights and cancer on individual ranks. If there is any hint that postmodern culture is an occurrence of the past, then the intention of perceiving it as an ethical verdict should be considered as a class oversight (Eagleton & Barbeito, 2000).
Postmodernist have actually distance themselves from the modern way of operations and the old days with regards to politics. Politics have not been highlighted in the postmodern world but there are several means through which politics are being portrayed. Postmodern culture has given the limelight of being the super in terms of culture and mode of operations and handling of upcoming issues. Technology has been the key in propelling the advancement in the postmodern culture. The postmodern culture also covers the economic concepts.
Politics in the postmodern culture has been decreasing since the end of the modern periods. This has been witnessed in current postmodern where there is no politics at all. Political associations have been in pursuit of the historical intervention so as to modify it but it has been a passive momentum. This is because the politics have been considered to be derailing the progress of the society since they tend to divert the society into a socialist type. There is also issue of the political group desiring to channel the past fantasies which is considered to be regressive institutionalization of the past. There is little which can be transferred from the past to the postmodern culture which is well equipped with the addiction images. Any attempts to convert the past into image optical illusion, typecast, or manuscript, will definitely eliminate all the intentions of real logic of expectations and of the joint development. This leaves the thoughts of expected transformation to fantasies of pure devastation or calamity and mysterious disasters from hallucination of terrorism, in regards to social heights and cancer on individual ranks. If there is any hint that postmodern culture is an occurrence of the past, then the intention of perceiving it as an ethical verdict should be considered as a class oversight.
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