Re: po-mo is part of the world-system, not a virus

Fri, 14 Mar 1997 11:05:13 -0500 (EST)

A few more notes on po-mo. since Al Bergson suggests that Marx/Weber were
particularists while to me they are the epitome of universalists, it might
be worth using the terms universalist/particularist with a good deal of
caution--apparently anyone one can be either. While the overwhelming
consensus on this list is that
postmodernism is 'particularist' an argument can be made that the
currently fashionable terms radical democracy/multiculturalism suggest a
new universalism. Even Lyotard's denunciation of 'master narratives' is
itself a universalist philosophical position--suggesting everyone just
tend to their corner of the universe is not the same as actually tending
to your own corner of the universe.
While a lot of contributors are associating po-mo with
liberalism, consumer society etc. it seems worth noting the broader
context (rarely mentioned in discussions of po-mo, but haunting most posts
most of the time on this list) which is the decline of the Eurocentred
world and its dominant groups--white male etc. INdeed, the French
philosophers who currently haunt American academia can be seen as having
played a brilliant trick, gaining one last moment in the world spotlight
for the west by denouncing all it stands for and its foundational
principles. po-mo postcolonial, feminist, queer theory etc. thought can
be seen as working the paradox of trying to represent the
interests/standpoints of previously excluded groups in a public sphere
conceived and organized by Eurocentric forces. Those po-mos not concerned
with marginal groups (Baudrillard, for example) deal with another
paradox--that the western fascination with representing reality has
created such a plethora of representations that it is now impossible to
move beyond them to reality itself.

Steven Sherman
binghamton University