Let them eat text: The real politics of postmodernismoff our backs, August/September 1999, V.29; N.8 p. 7, Word Count: 2852
by Karla Mantilla
What is really interesting is the way postmodernists theorists write as though this is big news. Radical feminists have been saying this for years. And in a classic patriarchal reverse (a la Mary Daly), postmodernists accuse radical feminists of being essentialists, that is, believing that gender and other qualities are biological. That is precisely the opposite of what radical feminists have been saying all along--that since gender is so thoroughly socially constructed, it can be constructed differently, more equitably. Where radical feminists do part ways with postmodernists is their understanding of just what a difficult project this is to undertake. And the radical feminist view that this has not yet happened nor could it happen so facilely is why they are accused by postmodernists of being essentialist- - because although it does not arise from biological differences, there is now a significant difference in the ways women and men are raised and socialized, hence there is currently a great difference in some ways. I think of postmodernists as a brand of "you've-come-a-long-way-baby" feminists--blithely in denial about just how deeply patriarchal conditioning runs and patriarchal institutions are entrenched.
1Feb16 - added a classic cartoon by Clay Butler. Postmodernism is a theory to disarm and confuse us!! Thanks Stephanie.
4Dic2016 - Sabine sent me this great article today: A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies which is basically a wonderfully crafted satire on the absurd - yet totally logical - results of post-modernism. Epic :)
A short quote:
"Why did I do it? While my method was satirical, my motivation is utterly serious. What concerns me is the proliferation, not just of nonsense and sloppy thinking per se, but of a particular kind of nonsense and sloppy thinking: one that denies the existence of objective realities, or (when challenged) admits their existence but downplays their practical relevance. At its best, a journal like Social Textraises important questions that no scientist should ignore -- questions, for example, about how corporate and government funding influence scientific work. Unfortunately, epistemic relativism does little to further the discussion of these matters."
17Nov2014 - I copied this brilliant article so I could add my own highlights (original article here).
Although I was familiar with what Integral Theory calls the Toxic Green Meme, it also puzzled me no end how Ken Wilber seems to discount or profoundly fail to understand just how advanced radical feminism was decades ago in giving us the antidote to it.
Massive blind spot on his part, which could also explain how on earth the (otherwise) quite brilliant integral movement has nothing useful or even vaguely intelligent to say about the mechanics of oppression.
Three steps forward, two steps back? Sigh ... :( We don't have TIME for this!
6May15 - Am trying to figure out how to tie this article in with the Fascist Ecology one ... which gives an example of the chilling consequences of of these 'two steps back' thing. ...
12May15 - thanks Hamza for a great Integral workshop for our most recent iPDC course, especially the great discussions it generated!
Here is the article I wrote about Avatar and Teal visions: there's parallels with this here about integrals totally missing seeing some crucial patterns .. and I think it's because they are mostly privileged western intellectuals / academics)
30Jun15 - shared this here in an integral group in FB today.
22Sept15 - after reading Derrick Jensen's brilliant article on deplatforming (the new macarthism, a direct result of post-modernism being questioned), I decided to add this article. Let them eat text, to the Attacks on DGR web. Because it is totally relevant for understanding the context of the whole disgusting episode.
A young member of DGR told me last week (during a wonderful conversation in which I learned a lot more from her) that things clarified a lot for her when someone told her that we're living in counter-revolutionary times.
And of course, it does make a lot of sense: radical feminism IS revolutionary, and throughout the 70s to early 90s it blossomed into a phenomenal force, radicalizing a huge number of women.
And the system absolutely had to defend itself. As Mantilla says in this article:
What is also interesting is the timing of the advent of postmodernist theory.
As Somer Brodribb and Barbara Christian point out in Radically Speaking, postmodernism came into vogue in academia just when the voices of women and people of color began to assert a significant presence there.
It seems that when groups other than those in power attempt to say things, suddenly truth dissolves into meaninglessness.
This is a little too coincidental for my taste.
And it helps a lot to think of these as counter-revolutionary times: there are movements that would restore the state of affairs, or the principles, that prevailed during a prerevolutionary era.