Postmodern Politics: Fragmentation or Alliance?

Dawns, Twilights, and Transitions: Postmodern Theories, Politics, and Challenges

By Steve Best & Douglas Kellner

The postmodern turn which has so marked social and cultural theory also involves conflicts between modern and postmodern politics. In this essay, we articulate the differences between modern and postmodern politics and argue against one-sided positions which dogmatically reject one tradition or the other in favor of partisanship for either the modern or the postmodern. Arguing for a politics of alliance and solidarity, we claim that this project is best served by drawing on the most progressive elements of both the modern and postmodern traditions. Developing a new politics involves overcoming the limitations of certain versions of modern politics and postmodern identity politics in order to develop a politics of alliance and solidarity equal to the challenges of the coming millennium.

“What’s going on just now? What’s happening to us? What is this world, this period, this precise moment in which we are living?” Michel Foucault

In the past two decades, the foundational claims of modern politics have been challenged by postmodern perspectives. The grand visions of emancipation in liberalism, Marxism, and other political perspectives of the modern era have been deemed excessively grandiose and totalizing, occluding differences and neglecting more specific oppressions of individuals and disparate groups. The liberal project of providing universal rights and freedoms for all has been challenged by specific groups struggling for their own rights, advancing their own specific interests, and championing the construction of their unique cultures and identities. The Marxian project of revolution, worldwide and global in scope, has been replaced in some quarters by more localized struggles and more modest and reformist goals. The result is a variety of new forms of postmodern politics whose discourses, practices, and effects are beginning to register and come under critical scrutiny.

Read the full article at Democracy & Nature

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