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Post-modernism is a reaction to the failures of Modernism, most particularly its stunning failures to meet its own objective of emancipation for all mankind through a Christian/Cartesian mythology of history as a continual, linear progress. Modernism, primarily through its competing major ideologies (fascism, liberalism, Marxism), has created a great deal of suffering between ImposedRationality and actual warfare (think WWI, WWII). After all, a system of thought that could result in the Holocaust and industrial and bureaucratic warfare could not be good for the emancipation of mankind. Further, Modernism's chief tool, Science (and technology) has resulted in destruction, such as the creation of nuclear weapons, biological diseases, environmental damage, and other major catastrophes. Conversely, for many AnIndividual who were not accounted for (or counted less), the institutions Modernism has created has only served to marginalize and disempower them.

Rather than ImposeRationality in a futile attempt to emancipate the whole of mankind, PostModernism takes a converse view where it is both meaningless and immoral to look larger than the immediate, local, personal, and typically selfish. When they do so, it is often with a sense of despair and hopelessness that manifests itself in cynicism, irony, skepticism, contempt, and anger.

In the field of architecture, where post-modernism first emerged, this manifested itself in the movement to focus entirely on the local environment. Rather than place a structure into harmony with the wider GlobalStructure? of the planned city, a post-modern building would rather focus entirely on effecting change only on its immediate surroundings, or possible being oblivious to its place in the wider landscape at all. It would have only a LocalStructure?, that made sense only to itself. Further, since Modernism believed in progress as an absolute force in all the fields, it never looked back to previous ideas, but rather attempted to break from the past entirely. Conversely, post-modernism gives up on the notion of progress as meaningful, desirable, possible, or necessary. Thus, post-modern architecture frequently includes ('quote') prior styles that have gone out of fashion because they are also good. The criticism is that Modernism forgets the lessons of the past and therefore is condemned to repeat them.

Post-modernism's basic stance of hopelessness and apathy was born out of a sense that the project of human emancipation had failed. Distrust for power structures and the very nature of power had created a sense of ethics that suggested that one should not aspire to power, as all such structures were untrustworthy and potential sources of suffering. However, through the strategy to DevolvePower to TheIndividual, what emerged was a new power dynamic based around the network, particularly the particular DigitalNetwork called the Internet that enforces a sense of fair play and equality by the very architecture of the system.

Now, while as an individual, you can only truly ControlYourself via your LocalStructure?, through network effects (e.g. a NetworkStandard, creating a NetworkService? that becomes dominant), you can convince others to lend you power. Thus, power in the new era is ever shifting and resembles more of a meritocracy than prior methods. The view is not one of hopelessness either, but the HackerCulture of building viable alternatives and convincing others to join in. The dominant AttentionEconomy? is no longer one of limiting access to resources, but of a sharing GiftEconomy as a way of spreading your idea.

Thus, to answer the question what is 'post' post-modern, the answer is the Network Age. The difficulty is that the Network Age is simultaneously Modern, as it includes the continued growth of globalism, capitalism, and multinational powers that are increasingly overriding the nation-state system. The current conflict is whether the extension GlobalMedia? will follow its traditional path of growing only to extend control from centers of power out to new markets, or whether it will create access points to the Internet that ride on top of the wires that will bring more citizens online to the new competing ideology. The answer to that is not pre-determined. In Asia, the network is being spread through proprietary wireless handsets. In the West, the network is being spread through high-speed broadband access to the Internet.

Further, it's critical to note that the conflict is being enacted in blood via the conflict between the network-oriented terrorism and the traditional military-industrial system of global control. Clearly most people are caught in between the desire to free and empower themselves and the alternate realization that this will also free and empower dangerous elements inside and outside society.

The clearest and most direct definition of post-modernism is Jean-Francois Lyotard's (1986), [Defining the postmodern].


I don't think that the Hacker or network (internet) culture in itself can be an answer to the modern or post-modern problem. If Auschwitz is the problem, then the solution is to be critical towards rational thinking, especially in the form of constructivism. Reality must not be made up. Nobody must be able to sell us "red" for "blue" or "killing jews (or X)" as "something good". We certainly need a NewRealism who protects us from "being sold" bad things (e. g. bad politics) as good or "consumer products" as "making happy". This is not something superficial, it is at the core of our modern western societies. The problem is as old as philosophy: already Heraklit sold "war is the father ..." as good and was a provider of supporting the necessary arguments. Hegel was the word-magician who prepared the ground for Hitler and Marx. If reality is a pure construction, then there is no hope. But there is science and technology that show as that there is an objective "truth" in the sense of "it works". But this is not enough because humans still have to decide what they want (put the money where their mouth ist). Science and technology can't answer that. We have the wealth and the technology e. g. to let nobody die from hunger. In a voting, I'm sure that people would prefer humane help to military budgets. -- HelmutLeitner

But there has been a hacker response to Auschwitz. HackerCulture is more than code. Think about all the grassroot journalism that has outstripped the totally useless American media at uncovering American abuses of the Geneva conventions? It limits what they can do. The fact that the American military tried to have a little vaudeville show demonstrating the prisoner's meal at Gitmo as a defence about prisoner abuse to the Senate speaks volumes to how weak they feel their position is. I'm facilitating someone who is going to try to disrupt the propoganda in the upcoming German election in September, 2005 using a wiki. People are trying things.

Post-modernism is about hopelessness and despair. The Modern response to atrocities is to get the U.N. to marshall troops six months after the genocide has occured. A network response would be to overthrow the Phillipines' government with a street protest organized laterally (via SMS text messages, according to some).

Further, science and technology are not objective truths. That contradicts the very philosophy that underpins science, the scientific method. What is exciting is that rather than a small cloister of experts PeerReviewing each other, we now can solicit a huge number of people to bang away at a statement until it breaks. Thus, even when politicians say something wrong, it is not long before there is a response on the network.

The real threat is that Modern power structures are still stronger than the grassroots Network. China can suppress the Internet. People like the [Citizen Lab] try to respond to that threat--a much more intense HackerCulture. However, capitalism is its own downfall; kind of like a LethalText. It's profitable to open up the GlobalMedia? of control to the InternetProtocol of the devolution of power. -- SunirShah

I think there is no doubt that the world is lacking in economic and social justice. This is an objective fact that no Christian (or non-Christian) in good faith will disagree with. People will only disagree when they fear to have to pay (in terms of money or freedom) to change that. Modern rational thinking ended in constructivism of all kind: seek your advantage and sell it as beneficial reality. If you can sell the holocaust as necessary, humanity ends. The method is rational dishonesty and ended in PostModern intellectual crisis. The world evolves in trial and error. The error is a necessary element that mustn't be removed from the system. If it is possible to sell error as success (e. g. in politics), evolution ends. HackerCulture is about making things work, no selling of bugs as features. This is not philosophy but intuition in contact with reality. XP puts the error finding tests into the center of the work. Humans are able and will increasingly learn to look behind the facades (e. g. of the modern consumer society) and see the reality e. g. that the valuable things in life can neither be produced nor sold. With respect to rational thinking it boils down to a simple truth: brain is not enough. Communists never understood this, they are still looking for the perfect theory. Sunir somewhere says: "eyes, heart and brain". This is not attacking freedom. One has to look at reality (eyes), understand the systems and problems (brain) and make humane decisions (heart). Whether the heart is Christian - or from some other roots - must be unimportant to us. Also, the label Christian is not enough - there is e. g. some Christian fundamentalism without a heart. Important is, that the heart exists and has some priority. -- HelmutLeitner

The original statement was that some people counted less than Christian, white, males. Some people took offense to this statement. However, it's an important part of PostModernism, so I'll just sign it this time and suffer the consequences.

In the world that led to the creation of Modernism, the U.S. Constitution when it was first signed had specific provisions that discounted women and slaves (mostly black); literally discounted. Women counted for 0. Slaves counted for 3/5th of a person. Further, the Constitution upheld the sentiment that America was a Christian nation ("In God we trust..."). America is not the only country that believed strongly in superior groups of people. Social Darwinism was a fad in the British Empire because it was self-assuring, not because it was a seriously held theory. Rudyard Kipling was not hiding the sentiment of the day that the British felt they were simply better. At the time, many nations in Europe had similar views, and that is what led largely to World War I. While you can argue WWI was an outgrowth of industrial militarism, an alternative outcome could have been economic integration across industrial Europe if countries weren't so nationalistic and opposed to peaceful integration. The oppression of the Gypsies and Jews is undeniable. The use of industrial bureaucratic government to oppress them was "obvious." Lyotard doesn't mention Auswitchz as witty rapart&eacute.

Not listening to the anger at such outrages as WWII that underlies PostModernism just because it is emotionally upsetting makes it impossible to understand what people are saying when they are talking. Post-modernism is fundamentally a movement borne on anger, loathing, cynicism, hopelessness, resentment, and neurosis. Feelings that only come when you are at the bottom end of a power dynamic you have no chance in changing. Denying these voices only reinforces the pain rather than moves on towards reconcilation and joy. The goal is beneficial co-existance, not revenge nor repression.

We don't have to live in that world any longer, but the world was like that at one point. Some would say it still is. I'm interested in doing my part to build a better world in my lifetime. -- SunirShah

You take a very dim view of PoMo?, SunirShah. I see it as a philosophically valid (indeed, inevitable) *response* to a *past* full of anger, loathing, cynicism, hopelessness, resentment, and neurosis. A critical distinction. It is borne out of a sense of ontological openness which feels like a *return* to local, relativistic logic. In other words, a person need not feel powerless and hopeless in order to become a Post-Modernist. All it takes is to realize "Oh - my inherited ontology is a dead end, all similar ontologies are equally and arbitrarily restrictive, and therefore they are also dead ends."

Everything else you say makes perfect sense. - As If

I think that to answer injustice by injustice or nonsense by nonsense is not "valid". It is maybe understandable, pityable. It's a kind of suicide of the thinking mind or self. hl

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Fri Sep 4 01:54:06 2009

There is a solution to the insanity of postmodernism. Expose how oppression is condoned by pomo because it can't as a philosophy have any opinion one way or the other. "Liuberal" relativists will more likely embrace modernism once more when they realize their own goals are thwarted by apathy. How can postmodernists define oppression if everyone is entitled to a different definition of what makes oppression what it is.

Also eventually the anxiety and despair of not being able to rely on their own abiities will catch up with them, especially if they are thrust into a situation where the MUST ise their brains to "construct" real SOLUTIONS. People can only be apathetic for as long as they are not affected by real problems. To the extent they are illusion will not suffice in the long run. Reason logic and real hope will prevail if pople come to see these as necessary for theor own happiness.

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