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  • Victor C. Bolles

A Postmodern Future


Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Why should I waste my time worrying about postmodernism? I mean, postmodernism is just some crazy philosophy dreamed up some really odd Frenchmen like Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Jean-Francois Lyotard. We’ve got real problems that need to be dealt with. Problems like cancel culture, the Black Lives Matter movement, Critical Race Theory (along with all the other critical theories) and identity politics that are tearing our great country apart.


But philosophy is important. It was Enlightenment philosophy that shook up the Western World and created the modern era that we now live in. A philosophy that elevated reason to the pinnacle of our society and created the liberal politics, free markets, scientific progress and technological innovation that overwhelmed the faith and mysticism that had dominated the medieval world. But the changes created by Enlightenment thought brought about a reaction (the Counter-Enlightenment) by those that cherished faith and mysticism including religious scholars. Over the centuries, that reaction morphed into numerous philosophical pathways that sought to unseat the power of reason. Pathways that led through Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Nietzsche and Marx among many others.


Postmodernism rejects the authority of reason. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a leading light of the Counter-Enlightenment stated in 1755, “The root of our moral degradation is reason, the original sin of humankind.” Without reason the foundations of Western Civilization (liberal politics, scientific inquiry and technological innovation) collapse. Rousseau felt that the only solution to the inequality created by Enlightenment beliefs was the abolition of private property and the creation of a collectivized society that would replace the self-interest of the individual with the general will of society, He added, “whoever refuses to obey the general will will be forced to do so by the entire body.”


Over time this collectivized philosophy divided into two camps, left collectivist and right collectivist, as described by Stephen R. C. Hicks in his book, Explaining Postmodernism. The left and right collectivist philosophies shared many of the same tenets. They both were anti-individualist, favored big government, divided people into groups and set them against each other, and also agreed that war and revolution were acceptable to achieve their goals. The primary difference between these two counter-Enlightenment groups was that the right collectivists were nationalistic while the left were globalists. The right became known as fascists and Nazis while the left became known as socialists or communists.


The right collectivists were pretty much wiped out in the Second World War (although they seem to be making a bit of a comeback now). After the war, the left collectivists pinned their hopes on Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s Communist China. But there was a problem. Marxist theory said that communism or socialism would occur in highly industrialized countries because of the contradictions inherent in capitalism. But Stalin’s and Mao’s revolutions occurred in feudal, agrarian countries with little industry and no proletariat (industrial workers). Industrial workers in advanced economies in the mid-twentieth century were okay with capitalism and not in the mood to revolt and overthrow the system. And when the failures of communism became apparent (with Khrushchev’s Secret Speech revealing the horrors of Stalinism and the millions of deaths arising from Mao’s Great Leap Forward), the left collectivist philosophers in academia were left adrift.


The problem with Marxian socialism was resolved by rejecting the concept of scientific socialism and ignoring the empirical evidence of the failures of socialism. The oppression of the proletariat was replaced by oppression of various identity groups, starting with Critical Race Theory. Reason was replaced by narratives and feelings making civil discourse and debate on the issues impossible. The Truth was replaced by your truth and all the ills of the world were laid at the feet of Enlightenment philosophy and the white men that thought it up. Et voila (as the French postmodernists would say) Postmodernism becomes the underpinning of woke ideology.


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Postmodernism and the woke ideology based on it is backwards looking. It dwells on all of the transgressions of Western Civilization: chattel slavery, colonialism, mercantilism, racism and misogyny that led to the patriarchy and white supremacy. This is the focus of the 1619 Project that asserts America is doomed because its founding was based on the enslavement of black Africans which first occurred in 1619. This backward looking Postmodernism gave birth to Critical Race Theory and also led to colonial theory, queer theory and all the other theories propounded by the Woke. They tend to ignore all the transgressions of collectivist societies. They also ignore the fact that Western societies strove to rise above the transgressions of the West in order to more closely adhere to the values and principles of the Enlightenment. It was Enlightenment principles that ended slavery. Without abolitionist movements that grew in England and America, slavery would likely still exist today across the world (it still exists in certain unenlightened pockets around the globe).


Woke ideology does not provide a clear vision of what the future would look like if they were able to follow through on their plans. They vaguely talk about equity, closing the wealth gap, and reparations for past inequities. The truth of the matter (because there actually is truth) is that a woke future would be very grim. Woke economic policy will be focused on wealth redistribution, not wealth creation. Everybody would be poorer, not just white people. The handmaiden of equity is poverty. Everyone would be materially worse off than before.


Would the material deprivation be worth the improvement in the moral fabric of the people? Unlikely, people in the old Soviet Union were unhappy and depressed (if you were unhappy in such a socialist paradise you must be crazy, so dissidents in the Soviet Union were locked up in insane asylums). The will of the people would be determined by woke overlords in Washington, DC and if you didn’t like it, too bad. You would be forced to do whatever they demanded for the public good (just as Rousseau recommended in 1755).


Defense preparedness would be sacrificed to redistribution. Allies and friends would be abandoned. China would become the sole superpower and the arbiter of a new world order. China would probably leave the country that is no longer America to its own self-absorption as it would no longer be a threat to China’s hegemony.


Life in woke America, or whatever you want to call this new and different country, will not be pleasant. Education will be sacrificed to affirmative action, mathematics will be sacrificed to equity and merit will be sacrificed to inclusion. Like all collectivist societies it will degenerate into oppression and tyranny. The people will be the new serfs and peasants of this woke society, with no chance to seek their own dreams. Only the dreams that the overlords tell them to seek. President Joe Biden may not be woke himself, but he is giving the woke activists in his administration a free hand to unmake America. And what are the Republicans doing to forestall this demise of America. They are going to renominate Donald trump to be president once again. Give me a break.


It would be sad, sad indeed, if the great Enlightenment experiment that was America, that did so much good in the world, committed suicide, just as Founder John Adams feared back in 1814.



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