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As If We Need Another Crisis...

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Postmodern thinkers deconstruct popular narratives, seeking to uncover the power behind their construction, and employing a contextualism invoked by their belief in historical contingency. They are concerned with the immediate, the present and have no agreed narrative for the future. Postmodern thinkers relish the simulated, the image and the representation; they savor the sensational over the true; they blur the lines between fact and fiction; they savor the hyperreal; they constantly construct, deconstruct and reconstruct their identities as the situation permits; and they believe in imagined communities. Counterintuitively, to a postmodern thinker, words are never intended to be literal. Language and rhetoric are used elliptically and deliberately falsely, layered with circumstantial meaning, designed to help the speaker evade answering a question or taking a permanent position.

Modern thought and postmodern thought represent two philosophies and two conversation is riddled with evidence of this crisis: "that does not make any sense," and "that is hypocritical," and "that is illogical." When a political commentator or journalist invokes the phrase, "it is an assault on facts and truth," they are inherently referring to the consequences of a postmodern outlook. And, comments like these signal a rising sciences, in that those who employ either to explain the world around them subscribe to two different methodologies and perceive reality differently. This discursive competition between modern thinkers and postmodern thinkers plays out on television, social media and daily incommensurability of reality between modern and postmodern thinkers. The incommensurability thesis, as Kuhn described it, states that past terms, like 'justice,' used in another era or culture cannot be equated in meaning or reference with any present terms or expressions, because concepts derive their meaning from the paradigm in which they are developed. If a given paradigm, in this case, postmodern philosophy, has very forceful advocates, it is more likely to win widespread acceptance, and the truth that everyone is currently seeking will become relative to the accepted paradigm, in this case a paradigm that espouses many, constantly changing truths. For a postmodern thinker, truth changes as the immediate context demands, and when falsehoods can masquerade as truth, up can appear as down, bad as good, harmless as dangerous and evil can be made to appear as virtue.

That Cesar Sayoc could believe ridiculous conspiracy theories about political elites is only ridiculous if you subscribe to modern thought. However, postmodern thinkers who live in hyper-realities, which are models that eventually become more real than the realities they supposedly represent, cannot determine fact from fiction, and therefore understand these caustic narratives as wholesomely credible. In fact, a postmodernists' notion of identity is constructed like that of a fiction, where they play roles. Edgar Madison Welch (Pizza-gate), Robert Bowers (Pittsburgh Synagogue Terrorist/Murderer), and Cesar Sayoc (Failed Pipe Bomb Assassin) all thought they were doing the right thing on behalf of the oppressed victims, and they all rationalized their actions by seeing themselves as liberators. Furthermore, those who raised the idea of the attacks being "false flags," a comment which used to only see the light of day on the most extremely fringe conspiracy blogs, was a near unanimous talking point of many mainstream media outlets.

The views and ideas expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent the United States Army, the United States Department of Defense or the United States Government.

Thomas S Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1996.


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