Against Postmodernism takes issue with all these themes. It challenges the idealist irrationalism of post-structuralism. It questions the existence of any radical . Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique Paperback – Drawing on philosophy and cultural history, Against Postmodernism takes issue with some of the most forthright critics of postmodernism Jurgen Habermas and Frederic Jameson, for example. Postmodernism, Alex Callinicos. Postmodernism? Alex Callinicos The politics of postmodernism has already been the subject of con- siderable against postmodernism. He argues that.

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Trove: Find and get Australian resources. Books, images, historic newspapers, maps, archives and more. Take, for example, Alex Callinicos' Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique which attempts to locate a wide range of – mostly French – thinkers, from Jacques. Alex Callinicos Against Postmodernism takes issue with all these themes. Drawing on philosophy and cultural history, Against Postmodernism takes issue.

This has led to a lasting and penetrating critique on any philosophy that contains even the slightest hint of essentialism. But this very same philosophy has, I believe, failed to treat itself with the same rigour with which it bears down on its enemies.

There are, however, countless problems with this view; the most prominent for post-structuralism is summarized by Johann Gottlieb Fichte: 20 Peter Dews, Logics of Disintegration: Post-structuralist Thought and the Claims of Critical Theory. But in order for you to do this, that which thinks in this thinking must be the object of a higher thinking, in order to be an object of consciousness; and you immediately obtain a new subject, which is once more conscious of that which was formerly self-consciousness.

Derrida confronts many of these same issues through what he calls deconstruction.


Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, , 4. In his Course on General Linguistics Saussure attempted to delineate the different aspects of language. Against this common misconception, Derrida argued two interrelated points.

First, the definition of a word depends upon a multitude of other words for its expression, and as such should not be seen to be self-evident. When trying to define a word, it is necessary to use other words to do this, and these words that we use to define the first word need defining also — and so on ad infinitum.

Consequently Derrida goes on to make the second point that language differs 24 Ferdinand Saussure, Course in General Linguistics. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye, trans. Princeton: Princeton University Press, , Meaning is therefore derived relationally, between one signifier and another, and is thus infused with absence; meaning is in a state of perpetual flux, never to be tied down to a stable, self-present source.

One of the principle failings of metaphysics, Derrida argues, is the constitution as a founding term one of a pair of opposites that are, in fact, intrinsically bisected by one another.

Now, there is, as Dews points out, a problem with this theory.

The constant movement and elusiveness of meaning, derived from Saussurean linguistics, forces Derrida into a position in 26 Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, , translators preface, xvii. Meaning, in other words, is relational, and thus always unstable Indeed, Derrida believed that it was the structure of language that trapped us within metaphysics, and so found hope only within contradiction and heterogeneity — that Derrida replaced a metaphysics of presence with a metaphysics of absence reflects only the importance that he attributes to subversion.

This is, in essence, the project of deconstruction: the attempt to subvert the priority of one side of a duality, and thus to move beyond the duality. The fact remains however, that in order for Derrida to conceive of a notion of presence as always constituting absence, he must make recourse to the same totalizing conceptuality that he critiques. Presence, in other words, stands in a dialectical relation to absence, and thus the absolute opposition to one results in the redemption of the other.

One possible reason that has been suggested for this came in from Lyotard.

What Lyotard means by the hegemony of the discursive can best be understood through a comparison of his reading of the relation between the conscious and the unconscious in Freudian psychoanalysis with his more structuralist oriented contemporary Jacques Lacan.

Antony Hudek and Mary Lydon. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, , Both assume the priority of language over reality and both insist upon the non-fixity of this meaning.

Indeed, this is precisely where Lyotard takes exception. In The Postmodern Condition, Lyotard argues that a fundamental attitudinal shift has taken place in the late twentieth-century. Manchester: Manchester University Press, , xxiii.

For Lyotard this move represents something of a liberation, since the fallow soil which nurtured the growth of totalizing theories — which hitherto had dominated philosophy — is finally seen for what it is, and science is free to develop independent of a restrictive epistemic grounding.

Lyotard communicates through language, thus he cannot help but fall into the same metaphysical trap that both he and Derrida saw as an intrinsic part of the linguistically mediated. There are two main points that I wish to make with regard to this issue. In the same way that language must always be about reality, a philosophy which has origins must in some way be said to be about those origins, a part of the unfolding of the history of those ideas.

If, as we find in the relationship between Lyotard and Derrida, the development of a logic consists in the negation of a previous logic, the resulting rationale nevertheless remains tied to the thing that it seeks to exclude, even when the succeeding logic claims to be qualitatively different. Categorical logic is therefore contained within the imperatives of postmodern knowledge as that which is repressed, that which has been silenced. This dialectical view brings me to the second, somewhat more substantial point.

Translators preface, xvii. The drive to dominate nature necessitates a repression of the impulsive drives, which are themselves constitutive of the natural basis of human behaviour. In the dialectic of Enlightenment, this conflict is sublimated within an ever-intensifying adherence to the very instrumental rationality which enabled the domination of nature to take place in the first place, and ultimately, domination of nature leads to self-domination.

Lyotard, on the other hand, cannot provide an explanation as to how a destructive conceptual reason can ultimately come full circle to finally grasp the priority of the figural, for if it is to do so, surely modernist logic must contain within itself the seeds of this liberation, the possibility of overcoming its own contradictions, and therefore not be straightforwardly dominative — this is most certainly not in keeping with the anti-dialectical dualism that he established in Discourse, Figure.

The contradiction can be summarized as follows: if reason can come full circle to grasp its own inadequacies this would presumably 40 Peter Dews, Logics of Disintegration: Post-structuralist Thought and the Claims of Critical Theory.

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Furthermore, if Lyotard is correct in asserting that the ego is associated only with the repression of disorder through the control of the instinctive drives — which themselves are representative of the figural world — then it is reason that comprises the problem.

The concept of the liberation of the drives is inextricably bound up with their repression. The priority, therefore, of a variegated external reality over the restrictive concepts of language must account for the fact that such a grasping of reality as incomprehensibly heterogeneous was not possible without discourse.

Experience must be seen as an interplay of the immediate and the mediated, of presence and absence, of the identical and the non-identical What these two thinkers both have in common, then, is the paradoxical location of a stable meaning within the desire to show that such a thing as stability either cannot exist or cannot be comprehended.

Can we not say that the consensus of postmodernism is that such a consensus does not exist? Equally, if we find a group who maintain that such a totalizing consensus does exist, take any form of totalitarian politics for instance, can we not say that they are a necessary opposite in order for the postmodern belief in diversity to sustain itself, that they are the source of critique without which paralogy would lose all definition?

The veiling of this mutually constitutive relationship only serves to speed the dialectical reversal from one to the other — an observation that Eagleton has made with some power: Modernity for Lyotard would seem nothing but a tale of terroristic reason and Nazism little more than the lethal terminus of totalizing thought.

This reckless travesty ignores the fact that the death camps were among other things the upshot of a barbarous irrationalism which, like some aspects of postmodernism itself, junked history, refused argumentation, aestheticized politics and staked all on the charisma of those who told the stories.

Philosophy of New Music. Translated by Robert Hullot-Kentor. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, The Culture Industry. Translated by Jay M.

London: Routledge, Negative Dialectics. Translated by Dennis Redmond. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Translated by John Cumming. Oxford: Verso, Barthes, Roland. Barthes: Selected Writings. Edited by Susan Sontag. Oxford: Fontana Press, Image, Music, Text. Translated by Stephen Heath. London: Fontana Press, Theory of the Avant-Garde. Translated by Michael Shaw. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Callinicos, Alex.

Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique.

Oxford: Polity Press, Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, The Truth in Painting. London: University of Chicago Press, Dews, Peter.

Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique

London: Verso, After Theory. London: Penguin Books, Reality itself is indeed merely a chaotic collection of fragments dominated by an endless struggle for power shaping nature and society alike. And human beings, as part of this reality, lack any coherence or control over themselves. Thus Foucault saw the individual human subject as a mass of drives and desires brought together by the prevailing power relations within society. The third ingredient of Postmodernism is the theory of postindustrial society developed by sociologists such as Daniel Bell in the early s.

Bell argued that the world was entering a new historical epoch in which material production would become less and less important and knowledge the main driving force of economic development. Central to Postmodernism then is the idea of a systematic, comprehensive and very recent change. The world has entered a new social and economic epoch, accompanied by a cultural transformation — Postmodern art, and a philosophical revolution — Post-structuralism.

But the idea that we live in a new epoch is best exposed by looking as the claim that there is a distinctively Postmodern art. Probably the best known definition of Postmodern art is offered by the architectural historian Christopher Jencks.

Thus James Joyce in Ulysses mingles together different voices, styles and languages — an effect captured in poetry by T. Eliot in The Waste Land. The idea of a distinctive Postmodern art rests on a caricature of Modernism. He isolates four features.

Now the odd thing is that all these features of Modernism are frequently claimed to be distinctive of Postmodern art. The novels of Salman Rushdie, for example, are described as Postmodern when they are in fact typical of Modernism as defined by Lunn.

But this involves a complete misunderstanding of Modernism as a historical phenomenon. Modernism emerged in the late 19th century especially in those countries experiencing the rapid and uneven impact of the development of industrial capitalism — Russia, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary.

It can be seen as a response to the penetration of all aspects of social life by commodity relations. The general fragmentation this involved led to the isolation of art as a distinct, apparently autonomous social practice. The result was a tendency for artists, alienated from the rest of social life, to focus on art itself, for the process of artistic creation to become the object of art.

Reactionary Postmodernism?

This usually involved an ironic and detached attitude to reality. Art became a refuge from a social world dominated by commodity fetishism. This attitude was compatible with all sorts of political commitments, from the Marxism of Bertolt Brecht to the fascism of Ezra Pound.

The prevailing mood was, however, the pessimism summed up by T. Its key technical innovation was montage, the combination of distinct and apparently incompatible elements in the same work. The Cubist collages took this to the extent of incorporating bits of the real world — fragments of wood or newspaper — in their paintings. Art ceased to be a window on the world and became, potentially at least, part of the world. The implication was to break down the separation of art and social life which had given rise to Modernism in the first place.

This potential became self-conscious in the avant-garde movements which emerged at the end of the First World War — Dada, Surrealism, Constructivism. Their aim was to subvert art as an autonomous institution as part of the more general struggle to revolutionise society.

It was in the period of the Russian Revolution of and the German Revolution of —23 that the avant-garde movements flourished.Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, , This potential became self-conscious in the avant-garde movements which emerged at the end of the First World War — Dada, Surrealism, Constructivism. It is best read as a symptom of political frustration and social mobility rather than as a significant intellectual or cultural phenomenon in its own right.

It is therefore to be expected that as conditions change in the present, so does this impact upon the way the past is understood. He suggests it is best read as a symptom of political frustation and social mobility rather than as a significant intellectual or cultural phenomenon in its own right.

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