Is Postmodernism Inherently Authoritarian? – Quillette

Postmodernism is a broad school of thought. It has exerted influence throughout the humanities and social sciences, touching on everything from art and literature to history and psychology. At its core, postmodernist thinking can be reduced to the basic claim that all knowledge is socially constructed. There are no universal truths, only context-sensitive narratives, assembled according to variable arrays of cultural, historical, and political forces.

This makes exciting grist for the mills of parasitic academia, where people who it often seems “have been educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought” (to borrow a phrase from the biologist Peter Medawar) churn out reams of incomprehensible pedantry for the sole instrumental purpose of justifying a salary. This poses a number of interesting questions: if all knowledge is subjective and all claims on truth are equally valid, what exactly, are postmodern academics paid to do? If there is some value in the garbled expression of subjective ideas, why not fill a set proportion of seats in the humanities by lottery, cycling through new people year by year? Or, better still; why not simply redistribute the salary one might pay to postmodern academics to the public at large in exchange for personal essays on how they feel about the world?

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Is Postmodernism Inherently Authoritarian? – Quillette

“This poses a number of interesting questions: if all knowledge is subjective and all claims on truth are equally valid, what exactly, are postmodern academics paid to do?”

Academics are paid to show us a better way, but they aren’t doing that anymore. Everything is equal, and the clearly wrong way to approach the truth is to seek a better way.