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3.3.06

Who Is Talking About Postmodernism?

Joe Carter has a post up arguing that there aren't very many real postmodernists around. I think he's basically right that our impressions of the prevalence of postmodernism are highly inflated. He then goes on to consider why we have this inflated impression. Carter's view is that it's the appeal of the term "postmodern," which causes many people who are really "modernists turned up to 11" to call themselves postmodernists.

But I think a more important reason is inflation by postmodernism's enemies. While "postmodernism" may have cutting-edge cachet in some circles, the term is quite negatively loaded for the public as a whole. Thus it's useful for proponents of more traditional strains of modernism to be able to stick the "postmodern" label on their opponents. Outside of a few academic articles*, the only place I hear the term these days is from conservative pundits decrying the moral decline of society.

*And even here, you rarely hear anyone define their own approach as "postmodern" (or "modern"). Both terms are too broad to be useful in describing one's own views. On the other hand, the terms are frequently used to facilitate straw-manning one's opponents.

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