|Eagleton, Terry. The Illusions of Postmodernism. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1996.|
In the process, I accuse postmodernism from time to time of 'straw-targeting' or caricaturing its opponents' positions, a charge which might well be turned back upon my own account. But this is partly because I have in my sights precisely such 'popular' brands of postmodern thought, and partly because postmodernism is such a portmanteau phenomenon that anything you assert of one piece of it is almost bound to be untrue of another.
Comments: Why, then, all these generalizations? Why not discuss specific kinds of postmodernism?
of Eagleton's generalization:
His views on postmodern/consumer
cultures: p. 28
His defense of Marxism's view of history (teleological or not): p. 46
"Socialism does indeed posit a telos of a kind: the possibility of a more just, free, rational and compassionate social order. But so of course do radical postmodernists. Indeed some postmodernists seem to posit a teleology of a much more ambivalent kind: the idea, for example, that the Enlightenment led inevitably to the concentration camps. But neither party believes that there is anything historically guaranteed about the goal of a more just society, or that it is somehow even now stealthily at work as the secret essence of the present.
His critique of postmodernist view of history: p. 46-50
One vein of postmodernism views history as a matter of constant mutability, exhilaratingly multiple and open-ended, a set of conjunctures or discontinuities which only some theoretical violence could hammer into a single narrative. . . . The impulse to historicize capsizes into its opposite: pressed to the point where continuities simply dissolve, history becomes no more than a galaxy of current conjunctures, a cluster of eternal presents, which is to say hardly history at all. . . .
(p. 49) In overhistoricizing, postmodernism also underhistoricizes, flattening out the variety and complexity of history in flagrant violation of its own pluralistic tenets. As Francis Mulhern has written:
|Simon, Herbert W, & Michael Billig. After Postmodernism: Reconstructing Ideology Critique. London: Sage, 1994.|
ideology critique vs. postmodernism
p. 6 The problem is not that the postmodern spirit lacks a critical impulse, but that critique is running rampant without political direction.
|Norris, Christopher. What's Wrong with Postmodernism: Critical Theory and the Ends of Philosophy. NY: Harvester, 1990. A collection of essays, not very organized.|
|p. 4 . . .we have reached
a point where theory has effectively turned against itself, generating
a form of extreme epistemological scepticism which reduces everything
- philosophy, politics, criticism and 'theory' alike - to a dead level
of suasive or rhetorical effect where consensus-values are the
last (indeed the only) course of appeal.
"Lost in the Funhouse: Baudrillard and the Politics of Postmodernism." pp. 164-193.
Baudrillard's critique of Marxism
. . . Baudrillard's quarrel with Marxism, developed most fully in The Mirror of Production (1973). Here he sets out to deconstruct the opposition between use-value and exchange-value, the one conceived in terms of 'genuine' needs and productive resources, the other identified with a late-capitalist or consumer economy which invades and distorts every aspect of human existence. But this is to get the matter backward, Baudrillard argues, since any definition of use-value will have to take account of the socialised desires, needs and expectations which constitute the sphere of values in general. Thus the positive terms of Marxist theory - labour-power, production, use value, needs - are still caught up in a form of essentialist or metaphysical thinking which in effect reproduces the discourse of eighteen-century political economy.
. . .p. 170. Marx may have managed to 'transform the concepts of production and mode of production at a given moment', and thus brought about a 'break in the social mystery of exchange-value' which helps to understand the conditions prevailing at that moment. But Marxism goes wrong when it attempts to universalise such insights, building them up into a full-scale critical theory or 'science' with claims to non-contingent truth.
Baudrillard's view of
His similarity to Fish
Critique: p. 182
Baudrillard's mistake is to move straight on from a descriptive account
of certain pervalent conditions in the late twentieth century lifeworld
to a wholesale anti-realist stance which takes those conditions as a
pretext for dismantling every last claim to validity or truth.