Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Why are Post-Modernists/Deconstructionists considered to be the Left?

Coturnix asked: Why are Post-Modernists/Deconstructionists considered to be the Left? Is it their historical source, or they somehow fit into the Liberal system (perhaps on a big radial diversion away from the core). I find it difficult to align disdain for science and reality with the Nurturant Parent model.

Lakoff answered: History: Paris 1968 student uprising. Marxist background.

There are lots of different kinds of folks called postmodernists and deconstructionists. Stereotypical cases have the following properties relative to an NP analysis.

Here is a parametrization (see Elephant, p. 89):
Mode of thought: Anti-authoritarian (possibly added to other modes)
Empathetic with: Victims of illegitimate authoritarian uses of power
Idealist (not pragmatic)
Means: Militant
Time scale: Immediate
Pace of change: Radical
Means of inquiry: deconstruction, etc.

Correctly saw the power to interpret as real power -- the power to impose an interpretation can change reality.

How it differs from other forms of progressive thought:

Identified fixed interpretation (either author's intention, structural analysis, or new criticism) as an illegitimate authoritarian use of power (the power to interpret). Saw deconstruction/postmodernism as a means to power (the power to interpret). Saw "theory" as a way to legitimate their interpretive power. Also saw it (within the academy) as a way to gain social capital (cf. Bourdieu).

Some saw also science as "scientism" -- an illegitimate authoritarian use of power.

Certain cases were a pathological variant -- not nurturant but permissive, lacking responsibility (to reality, to community, to others with different views).

Coturnix asked: The same question on "Animal Rightists" (as opposed to "animal welfare" people which are clearly core liberals)? Is it just a huge radial deviation from the core? Their mindset (and tactics) reminds me more of anti-choice people than anti-war people.

Lakoff answered: Again: They are militant in means, idealists, and for immediate radical change -- like the pro-lifers.


coturnix said...

Thank you.

7:49 PM  
boris said...

I hear the word "anti-fascists".
oop! I said the f-word! ;)

9:18 AM  

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