Tuesday, September 20, 2011

FANCY TALK. American Thinker seems to encourage the use of academic cred to promote wingnut doctrine -- as seen in the contributions of Robin of Berkeley, a psychotherapist who regularly attributes policies she opposes to the mental illnesses in which her training has made her expert.

Today's AT intellectual is Paul Jacobson, who tells us that Democrats are "The Postmodern Party." He chooses an interesting path to this conclusion. Rather than correlate Democratic beliefs to postmodernist precepts -- say, the Affordable Care Act to the works of Martin Heidegger -- which he perhaps intuits will bore and frustrate his readers, Jacobson skips to the McCarthyite phase and tells us that the postmodern menace is everywhere upon us:
... academic postmodernism has long been reaching out from its lofty eyries via its "educated" acolytes, who have been busy for decades quietly worming their way into American life from top to bottom, including not just politics, but education at all levels, entertainment, journalism, corporations, foundations, even churches -- everything that affects you and me. Postmodernism is much more than a philosophy; it is today's foundational cultural driver.
And here's his proof point:
If you doubt that expansive claim for postmodernist influence, consider the poll results published almost a decade ago by the Barna Research Group, an organization that does polling for Christian organizations. You'd expect evangelical Christians to hold to a cornerstone belief in an absolute (Biblical) standard of good and evil, right? Wrong. Barna's poll showed, astonishingly, that an overwhelming majority of evangelical adults (68%) cleave instead to postmodernist moral relativity.
I anticipated testimonials from Bible-beaters who were right with God until they found some of that Jack Derry-da in the corncrib, whereupon they commenced to fornicatin' and other forms of moral relativism. But the linked Barna report doesn't mention postmodernism; the firm's George Barna suggests such results arise because "people are left with philosophies such as 'if it feels good, do it,' 'everyone else is doing it' or 'as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, it's permissible.'"

In other words, what scolds of an earlier, simpler time would attribute to rock 'n' roll, pornography, birth control, short skirts on the womenfolk, etc., Jacobson attributes to postmodernism -- the real root cause of sin. Let ignorant preachers flap their scriptures; for bigbrains like Jacobson, the devil is de trop, and Foucault rules in hell. (Jacobson does eventually move on from fundamentalists to Democrats, also blaming postmodernism for "the SEIU thug who bit off the guy's finger," as if political violence didn't happen before eggheads started telling everyone that language is a virus.)

This is far from the first pomo putdown seen at AT. They address other high-flown menaces, too -- in their current rotation you'll also find "Social Darwinism and Barack Obama."

It's become standard procedure for the pointier heads in the rightblogger world to lecture their readers on such obscure ivory tower terrors as The Frankfurt School, whom they portray as the godfathers of Social Security and ACORN. Andrew Breitbart's gotten deep into the act, and devotes a section of his book to it. And of course there's Alinsky, now an all-purpose rightwing swearword.

I can see the appeal. You don't see George F. Will doing much of this stuff; the big-time rightwingers are still shaking their fists at old-school demons like Keynes, and they rarely get schoolier than a solemn reference to Hayek or Chesterton. The new conservative intellectuals have to distinguish themselves from their mentors somehow, other than by their even greater mendacity and worse writing, and a new cast of supervillains is as good a way as any. After all, what does it matter what they call the enemy, so long as everyone knows to hate him?

UPDATE. It's late to notice, but comments are a joy, particularly the artistic ones, like BigHank53's memories of Jonathan Sokol and The Postmodern Lovers, and whetstone's evocation of Meredith Willson --
Are certain words creeping into his conversation?
Words like "gnostic"?
And "interlocutory"?
Well if so my friends,
You've got trouble...
Also Kia does a fine rundown on the real postmodern menace, i.e. posemodernists.

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