We get the term “postmodern,” at least in its current, philosophical sense, from the title of Jean-François Lyotard’s 1979 book, “The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge.” It described the state of our era by building out Lyotard’s observations that society was becoming a “consumer society,” a “media society” and a “postindustrial society,” as postmodern theorist Fredric Jameson points out in his foreword to Lyotard’s book. Lyotard saw these large-scale shifts as game-changers for art, science and the broader question of how we know what we know. This was a diagnosis, not a political outcome that he and other postmodernist theorists agitated to bring about.Another thinker, Jean Baudrillard, developed the concept of the “simulacrum,” a copy without an original, that leads to the “hyperreal,” a collection of signs or images purporting to represent something that actually exists (such as photos of wartime combat) but ultimately portraying a wild distortion not drawn from reality... By the 1980s, conservative scholars like Allan Bloom — author of the influential “The Closing of the American Mind” — challenged postmodern theorists, not necessarily for their diagnosis of the postmodern condition but for accepting that condition as inevitable... Unlike so many of today’s critics, Bloom understood that postmodernism didn’t emerge simply from the pet theories of wayward English professors. Instead, he saw it as a cultural moment brought on by forces greater than the university... Bloom was particularly worried about students — as reflections of society at large — pursuing commercial interests above truth or wisdom. Describing what he saw as the insidious influence of pop music, Bloom lamented “parents’ loss of control over their children’s moral education at a time when no one else is seriously concerned with it.” He called the rock music industry “perfect capitalism, supplying to demand and helping create it,” with “all the moral dignity of drug trafficking.”.. Kimball called “Tenured Radicals,” in his 1990 polemic against the academic left. At the heart of this accusation is the tendency to treat postmodernism as a form of left-wing politics — with its own set of tenets — rather than as a broader cultural moment that left-wing academics diagnosed... it treats Lyotard and his fellows as proponents of a world where objective truth loses all value, rather than analysts who wanted to explain why this had already happened... If you’re going to claim that Trumpism and alt-right relativism are consequences of the academic left’s supposition about what was happening, you must demonstrate a causal link. But commentators looking to trace these roots play so fast and loose with causality that they could easily be called postmodernist themselves... It is certainly correct that today’s populist right employs relativistic arguments: For example, “identity politics” is bad when embraced by people of color, but “identitarianism” — white-nationalist identity politics — is good and necessary for white “survival.” But simply because this happens after postmodernism doesn’t mean it happens because of postmodernism.. figures such as “intelligent design” theorist Phillip Johnson and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich cite the influence of postmodernist theory on their projects. Yet, as McIntyre acknowledges — and documents extensively in his book — right-wing think tanks and corporate-backed fronts — like tobacco industry “research” — had already established an “alternative facts” program for the right, long before creative misinformation entrepreneurs came around... because reading postmodern theory is so notoriously difficult — partly because of how philosophical jargon gets translated, and partly because so much of the writing is abstruse and occasionally unclarifiable — an undergraduate (as in Cernovich’s case) or a layperson will almost inevitably come away with misreadings... Hannah Arendt’s 1951 “The Origins of Totalitarianism”: “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction . . . and the distinction between true and false . . . no longer exist.”.. “The deliberate falsehood and the outright lie used as legitimate means to achieve political ends,” writes Arendt in her 1971 essay “Lying in Politics ,” “have been with us since the beginning of recorded history.”.. Fredric Jameson’s reflections on conspiracy theory (“the poor person’s cognitive mapping in the postmodern age”) aren’t what’s convincing people to believe that climate change is a hoax or that the Democratic Party has been running a pedophilia ring out of a Washington pizza parlor.
.. Likewise, the claim that the Trump-Russia investigation is — as Trump said on national television — a “made-up story,” an “excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election,” is not a postmodernist critique of the evidence the Mueller investigation has gathered. So it’s a massive category error to call Trump’s post-truth politics “postmodernist.” It’s just the say-anything chicanery of the old-fashioned sales pitch... it’s clear that the real enemy of truth is not postmodernism but propaganda, the active distortion of truth for political purposes.Trumpism practices this form of distortion on a daily basis. The postmodernist theorists we vilify did not cause this; they’ve actually given us a framework to understand precisely how falsehood can masquerade as truth.
.. I mean seriously, when you see what’s happening you look — we’re renegotiating NAFTA right now. I don’t know that we can make it good.
I tell people openly, because the best deal is to terminate it and then make a new deal. But I don’t know that we can make a deal because Mexico is so spoiled with this horrible deal that they’ve lived with, from our standpoint horrible.
So think of it, Mexico makes more than a hundred billion dollars a year on the United States. Now, how stupid is this.
But sometimes something is so good that you can’t — how do you? The best way? Terminate, let’s start all over again. Let’s start all over again. But some of the politicians are afraid to terminate, oh, we don’t want to terminate NAFTA. Take a look at these empty mills all over the place, that they turn into nursing homes, you know. Nice solid walls on the outside. But, it’s — it just can’t be.
I really think we’re making the point a lot of people are digging it. I will tell you, the people that really count, which is you, the workers, everybody, they’re really understanding what’s going on. Nobody’s done what I’m doing. I mean it’s sort of really virgin territory.
It’s absolutely virgin territory. It’s territory that our country for 50 or 60 or 70 years has not wanted to go there. They just haven’t for whatever reason.
And our wealth has been taken, our jobs have been taken, our companies have moved, and now they’re starting to move back. So it’s, it’s a formula that is, it’s just absolute — there’s disruption, there’s anger. And just remember, our friends that everybody says — our allies, our allies are wonderful — I love our allies. Our allies care about themselves, they don’t care about us. You look at our trade deficit with these countries are our allies. It’s unbelievable. And they understand it. I don’t blame them.
I told Japan — so we lose 100 billion dollars a year with Japan — 100 billion. So why aren’t we taxing their cars when they come in. Then we’d lose nothing. We might even make something. And you know what they’re going to do, they’re going to say we don’t want to pay that tax, so let’s build plants in the United States. They already have some. But they’ll expand them and they’ll build new plants. Because they don’t want to pay the tax — I want them to build new plants in the United States. Let them make United States here — like China makes them do, we have a company, they want to build planes over there, hate to say it, Boeing is being forced to build plants. I don’t like that, I don’t like it, so I’m not saying China’s wrong. I was with President Xi, I was with a big group of people, and I was saying how China is ripping off the United States. And he’s like “woo, this is uncomfortable.” [Laughter.] 700 press. I’m saying China is ripping off our — but I don’t blame you. I say, it’s great that you were able to do it for yourselves. I blame the people that represented our country, because they were not doing their job — they were delinquent in allowing this to happen to us. So we owe 21 trillion dollars. We lose 800 billion a year.
Josh will say, I don’t think I’m going to ruin [unintelligible.] Think of it, Josh. We lose 800 billion a year on trade. Who made these deals? Who made these deals?
Then you have certain people that think it’s okay to lose 800. You know, these worldly people. You know why they’re worldly people, because they have stuff on the other side. [Laughter.] That’s what it is. Can’t be any other reason. But we lose 800 billion dollars a year on trade. We lose our jobs, we lose everything.
And it’s not happening anymore, because it’s starting to come back. But over the next few months, you’re going to find it even more interesting. Because things are really — you know, we have, statutorily you have to do this, this, this, wait 90 days, wait six months, you can’t do it, you’re not allowed to legally. We have agreements that are so bad.
We have one agreement with a trade. I said when does that agreement terminate, it’s terrible. Sir, there is no termination. I said, what do you mean? We don’t have the right to term — I said, well, okay, after 10 years, 20 years. No sir, there is no right of term — I said what the hell kind of — So you know what I did, I just terminated. [Applause.]
Which would mean that’s, we’ll call it unconstitutional. There’s no end date. There’s no nothing. I’ll give you another example, Mexico, so they have this great deal. The day it was signed, it was a bad deal, because they have a 16 percent VAT tax, and we don’t. So they were already up 16 percent before the deal. And nobody saw that. And by the time they realized it, the deal was gone. But instead of adjusting the deal — what was that, 30 years ago when it was first signed — instead of adjusting the deal, we lived with it. What the hell difference does it make?
So they had a 16 percent step up advantage on us, and they have for many years. And Mexico and Canada — and, by the way, Canada, they negotiate tougher than Mexico. Trudeau came to see me, he’s a good guy, Justin. He said, no, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please. Nice guy, good-looking, comes in — Donald, we have no trade deficit — he was very proud, because everybody else you know were getting killed with our, so he’s [unintelligible]. I said wrong, Justin, you do. I didn’t even know. Josh, I had no idea. I just said, you’re wrong. You know why? Because we’re so stupid. [Unintelligible, laughter] And I thought they were smart.
I said you’re wrong, Justin. He said, Nope, we have no trade deficit. I said, Well, in that case, I feel differently, I said, but I don’t believe it. I sent one of our guys out, his guy, my guy, they went out, I said, Check, because I can’t believe it.
.. Well sir you’re actually right. We have no deficit, but that doesn’t include energy and timber. But when you do we lose 17 billion dollars a year. It’s incredible. So you’re in good hands. And I need Josh to help [unintelligible]. [Applause.]
Claire McCaskill is a guaranteed negative vote on every single thing that you people stand for, and frankly that a vast majority of the people of Missouri stand for. It is a negative vote for our country. And you have to defeat Claire McCaskill. Last time she get very lucky. She got lucky — she was going to lose. That was a done deal. And then, something happened. I was watching, I said, oh! What happened. That was big! The next day I said, oh yeah, I was right, I watched that.
So you got to get her out. Bad for Missouri, bad for the country. And this is going to be a great United States senator. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
This was the week Donald Trump became president.
Or at least the week he became the president we were always expecting. He ceased bothering to pretend that he was ever going to do the job in any normal sense of the word. He decided to totally own the whole, entire joke that he is.
He started hiring people right off TV. He extended his tiny fingers into his giant flat screen, “Purple Rose of Cairo”-style, and dragged cable conservatives directly into the administration.
We’ve always known Trump makes stuff up. But now he has stopped bothering to pretend that he doesn’t. Truthful hyperbole is out. Outlandish fabrication is in. Trump began bragging to Republicans at a private fund-raiser in St. Louis Wednesday: Oh, get a load of this trade stuff I made up to outfox that fox, Justin Trudeau. I felt bad doing it to such a nice, good-looking guy. But it’s hilarious!
He is no longer bothering to pretend that governing involves a learning curve. Now he finds it’s clever to be a fabulist, concocting phony facts about the trade deficit when talking to the Canadian prime minister — one of our closest allies — or inventing a story for donors about how Japanese officials test American cars by dropping a bowling ball on their hoods from 20 feet up to see which ones dent.
.. Trump & Friends presented this dizzying White House purge as a twisted version of him growing into the job, even as everyone else felt he was going in the opposite direction
.. Trump got his next moment of gross exaltation when Jeff Sessions, frantically trying to save his own job, fired Andrew McCabe hours before he became eligible for his government pension and on his birthday weekend. John Brennan, the former director of the CIA, tweeted that Trump will take his “rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.” Then the president’s lawyer, John Dowd, issued a statement Saturday saying he will “pray” that Rod Rosenstein “will follow the brilliant and courageous example” of Sessions and end the Russia investigation entirely.
Trump is giddy about all the CHAOS — he capitalized it on Twitter — feeling that he’s ridding himself of any idiots who called him a moron or dumb as a rock and any economists who don’t understand what a great dealmaker he is... It’s the final Foxification of politics. Trump spends all his time watching Fox News, basing his opinions and tweets on it, and now he’s simply becoming one with it. He is even willing to overlook his distaste for the yeti mustache of the warmongering John Bolton and consider the Fox News analyst as a replacement for McMaster.
Roger Ailes would be so proud, if he were still alive and harassing women.
.. Trump thinks he’s a fabulously devious manager creating “great energy,” with great ratings coming from his talent for theatrical twists and turns. But he’s really inhumane, playing people against one another and widely discussing successors for officials who haven’t even been officially informed that they’re walking the plank. And, far from the A-team he promised, he’s hired a bunch of pathetic, disgusting swamp schnorrers who can’t stop using taxpayer money to fund their office furniture or office redesign or luxury plane trips with their wives.
“I like conflict,” Trump said this month at a press conference with the Swedish prime minister, smacking his fists together and adding, “I like watching it, I like seeing it, and I think it’s the best way to go.”
Never mind that a lot of the country — and the world — craves stability.
.. “I think Trump is royally pissed about the Mueller subpoena of the Trump Organization records,” Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio says about the special counsel crossing the president’s red line. “He fears the nakedness of his true business activities being revealed far more than the shame of ‘Access Hollywood’ or Stormy Daniels. Unlike the show of blank paper in file folders conducted when he supposedly stepped away from his businesses, this will require real documents, and I doubt he can count on people lying for him.”
John Oliver Finds Humor In The News No One Wants To Hear About
Last Week Tonight creates Catheter Cowboy ad to try to reach the president while he gets his alternative daily briefing.