Postmodern Theory Guzik 2

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Information about Postmodern Theory Guzik 2

Published on October 10, 2016

Author: KyleGuzik1


1. Postmodern Theory Kyle Guzik ARTE 701 10/3/16

2. Structuralism Ferdinand de Saussure (1857 - 1913) Saussure instead viewed the meaning of language as the function of a system. He asked himself how do you isolate a coherent object of linguistics from a confusing morass of language usages? [57]

3. • Look for the underlying rules and conventions that enable language to operate. • Analyze the social and collective dimension of language rather than individual speech. • Study grammar rather than usage, rules rather than expressions, models rather than data. • Find the infrastructure of language common to all speakers on an unconscious level. This is the “deep structure” which need not refer to historical evolution. Structuralism examines the synchronic (existing now) rather that the diachronic (existing and changing over time). [57]

4. Phoneme –smallest unit in the sound system that can indicate contrasts in meaning Signifier- word or acoustic image Signified- concept referred to by the signifier Signification- association of sound and what it represents as the outcome of collective learning Meaning- product of a system of representation which is itself meaningless Syntagmatic series- linear relationship between linguistic elements in a sentence Paradigmatic series – relationship between elements with a sentence and other elements which are syntactically interchangeable Metaphor- paradigmatic perception of similarity that is no literally true Metonymy- syntagmatic perception of contiguity, naming attribute or adjunct instead of thing itself Synecdoche- syntagmatic naming of part for whole * Roman Jakobson (1895- 1982) - After studying aphasia, proposed that there are two opposed forms of mental activity underlying use of metaphor and metonymy.

5. Semiology – general science of signs which studies the various systems of cultural conventions which enable human actions to signify meaning and hence become signs [64] Claude Lévi-Strauss (b. 1908) – structural anthropology systematized a semiology of culture; mechanical theory of communication; language allows us to form social relationships and categorize our environment The human mind functions in model binary sets- noise/silence, raw/cooked, naked/ clothed, light/ darkness, sacred/profane The brain searches for a representation of the binary opposition (go) +/- (stop), and finds green and red and also the intermediate colour term (/) caution, yellow. [69]

6. But it is no longer a question of either maps or territories. Something has disappeared: the sovereign difference, between one and the other, that constituted the charm of abstraction. Because it is difference that constitutes the poetry of the map and the charm of the territory, the magic of the concept and the charm of the real. This imaginary of representation, which simultaneously culminates in and is engulfed by the cartographer’s mad project of the ideal coextensivity of map and territory, disappears in the simulation whose operation is nuclear and genetic, no longer at all specular or discursive. It is all of metaphysics that is lost. No more mirror of being and appearances, of the real and its concept. No more imaginary coextensivity: it is genetic miniaturization that is the dimension of simulation. The real is produced from miniaturized cells, matrices, and memory banks, models of control – and it can be reproduced an indefinite number of times from these. It no longer needs to be rational, because it no longer measures itself against either an ideal or negative instance. It is no longer anything but operational. In fact, it is no longer really the real, because no imaginary envelops it anymore. It is a hyperreal, produced from a radiating synthesis of combinatory models in a hyperspace without atmosphere. By crossing into a space whose curvature is no longer that of the real, nor that of truth, the era of simulation is inaugurated by a liquidation of all referentials – worse: with their artificial resurrection in the systems of signs, a material more malleable than meaning, in that it lends itself to all systems of equivalences, to all binary oppositions, to all combinatory algebra. (Baudrillard, 454)

7. Is any given bombing in Italy the work of leftist extremists, or extreme-right provocation, or a centrist mise-en-scène to discredit all extreme terrorists and to shore up its own failing power, or again, is it a police-inspired scenario and a form of blackmail to public security? All of this is simultaneously true, and the search for proof, indeed the objectivity of the facts does not put an end to this vertigo of interpretation. That is, we are in a logic of simulation, which no longer has anything to do with a logic of facts and an order of reason. Simulation is characterized by a precession of the model, of all the models based on the merest fact – the models come first, their circulation, orbital like that of the bomb, constitutes the genuine magnetic field of the event. The facts no longer have a specific trajectory, they are born at the intersection of models, a single fact can be engendered by all the models at once. This anticipation, this precession, this short circuit, this confusion of the fact with its model (no more divergence of meaning, no more dialectical polarity, no more negative electricity, implosion of antagonistic poles), is what allows each time for all possible interpretations, even the most contradictory – all true, in the sense that their truth is to be exchanged, in the image of the models from which they derive, in a generalized cycle (464).

8. End of the panoptic system. The eye of TV is no longer the source of an absolute gaze, and the ideal of control is no longer that of transparency. This still presupposes an objective space (that of the Renaissance) and the omnipotence of the despotic gaze. It is still, if not a system of confinement, at least a system of mapping. More subtly, but always externally, playing on the opposition of seeing and being seen, even if the panoptic focal point may be blind. (472) “You no longer watch TV, it is TV that watches you (live),” or again: “You are no longer listening to Don’t Panic, it is Don’t Panic that is listening to you” – a switch from the panoptic mechanism of surveillance (Discipline and Punish [Surveiller et punir]) to a system of deterrence, in which the distinction between the passive and the active is abolished. There is no longer any imperative of submission to the model, or to the gaze “you are the model!” “you are the majority!” Such is the watershed of a hyperreal sociality, in which the real is confused with the model, as in the statistical operation, or with the medium, (472)

9. The “space race” played exactly the same role as nuclear escalation. This is why the space program was so easily able to replace it in the 1960s (Kennedy/Khrushchev), or to develop concurrently as a form of “peaceful coexistence.” Because what, ultimately, is the function of the space program, of the conquest of the moon, of the launching of satellites if not the institution of a model of universal gravitation, of satellization of which the lunar module is the perfect embryo? Programmed microcosm, where nothing can be left to chance. Trajectory, energy, calculation, physiology, psychology, environment – nothing can be left to contingencies, this is the total universe of the norm – the Law no longer exists, it is the operational immanence of every detail that is law. A universe purged of all threat of meaning, in a state of asepsis and weightlessness – it is this very perfection that is fascinating. The exaltation of the crowds was not a response to the event of landing on the moon or of sending a man into space (this would be, rather, the fulfillment of an earlier dream), rather, we are dumbfounded by the perfection of the programming and the technical manipulation, by the immanent wonder of the programmed unfolding of events. Fascination with the maximal norm and the mastery of probability. Vertigo of the model, which unites with the model of death, but without fear or drive. (475-476)

10. Why did this American defeat (the largest reversal in the history of the USA) have no internal repercussions in America? If it had really signified the failure of the planetary strategy of the United States, it would necessarily have completely disrupted its internal balance and the American political system. Nothing of the sort occurred. Something else, then, took place. This war, at bottom, was nothing but a crucial episode of peaceful coexistence. (477) This is why nuclear proliferation does not increase the risk of either an atomic clash or an accident – save in the interval when the “young” powers could be tempted to make a nondeterrent, “real” use of it (as the Americans did in Hiroshima – but precisely only they had a right to this “use value” of the bomb, all of those who have acquired it since will be deterred from using it by the very fact of possessing it). Entry into the atomic club, so prettily named, very quickly effaces (as unionization does in the working world) any inclination toward violent intervention. Responsibility, control, censure, self-deterrence always grow more rapidly than the forces or the weapons at our disposal: this is the secret of the social order. Thus the very possibility of paralyzing a whole country by flicking a switch makes it so that the electrical engineers will never use this weapon: the whole myth of the total and revolutionary strike crumbles at the very moment when the means are available – but alas precisely because those means are available. Therein lies the whole process of deterrence. It is thus perfectly probable that one day we will see nuclear powers export atomic reactors, weapons, and bombs to every latitude. Control by threat will be replaced by the more effective strategy of pacification through the bomb and through the possession of the bomb. (479)

11. Nor should the break in question be thought of as a purely cultural affair: indeed, theories of the postmodern – whether celebratory or couched in the language of moral revulsion and denunciation – bear a strong family resemblance to all those more ambitious sociological generalizations which, at much the same time, bring us the news of the arrival and inauguration of a whole new type of society, most famously baptized “post-industrial society” (Daniel Bell), but often also designated consumer society, media society, information society, electronic society or “high tech”, and the like. Such theories have the obvious ideological mission of demonstrating, to their own relief, that the new social formation in question no longer obeys the laws of classical capitalism, namely the primacy of industrial production and the omnipresence of class struggle. The Marxist tradition has therefore resisted them with vehemence (Jameson, 408).

12. A last preliminary word on method: what follows is not to be read as stylistic description, as the account of one cultural style or movement among others. I have rather meant to offer a periodizing hypothesis, and that at a moment in which the very conception of historical periodization has come to seem most problematical indeed. I have argued elsewhere that all isolated or discrete cultural analysis always involves a buried or repressed theory of historical periodization; in any case, the conception of the “genealogy” largely lays to rest traditional theoretical worries about so-called linear history, theories of “stages”, and teleological historiography. In the present context, however, lengthier theoretical discussion of such (very real) issues can perhaps be replaced by a few substantive remarks. One of the concerns frequently aroused by periodizing hypotheses is that these tend to obliterate difference, and to project an idea of the historical period as massive homogeneity (bounded on either side by inexplicable “chronological” metamorphoses and punctuation marks). This is, however, precisely why it seems to me essential to grasp “postmodernism” not as a style, but rather as a cultural dominant: a conception which allows for the presence and coexistence of a range of very different, yet subordinate features. Consider, for example, the powerful alternative position that postmodernism is itself little more than one more stage of modernism proper (if not, indeed, of the even older romanticism); it may indeed be conceded that all of the features of postmodernism I am about to enumerate can be detected, full-blown, in this or that preceding modernism (including such astonishing genealogical precursors as Gertrude Stein, Raymond Roussel, or Marcel Duchamp, who may be considered outright postmodernists, avant la lettre). What has not been taken into account by this view is, however, the social position of the older modernism, or better still, its passionate repudiation by an older Victorian and post-Victorian bourgeoisie, for whom its forms and ethos are received as being variously ugly, dissonant, obscure, scandalous, immoral, subversive and generally “anti-social”. It will be argued here that a mutation in the sphere of culture has rendered such attitudes archaic. Not only are Picasso and Joyce no longer ugly; they now strike us, on the whole, as rather “realistic”; and this is the result of a canonization and an academic institutionalization of the modern movement generally, which can be traced to the late 1950s. This is indeed surely one of the most plausible explanations for the emergence of postmodernism itself, since the younger generation of the 1960s will now confront the formerly oppositional modern movement as a set of dead classics, which “weigh like a nightmare on the brains of the living”, as Marx once said in a different context (Jameson,409). American, postmodern culture is the internal and superstructural expression of a whole new wave of American military and economic domination throughout the world: in this sense, as throughout class history, the underside of culture is blood, torture, death and horror (Jameson, 409).

13. Returning now for one last moment to Munch’s painting, it seems evident that The Scream subtly but elaborately deconstructs its own aesthetic of expression, all the while remaining imprisoned within it. Its gestural content already underscores its own failure, since the realm of the sonorous, the cry, the raw vibrations of the human throat, are incompatible with its medium (something underscored within the work by the homunculus’ lack of ears). Yet the absent scream returns more closely towards that even more absent experience of atrocious solitude and anxiety which the scream was itself to “express”. Such loops inscribe themselves on the painted surface in the form of those great concentric circles in which sonorous vibration becomes ultimately visible, as on the surface of a sheet of water – in an infinite regress which fans out from the sufferer to become the very geography of a universe in which pain itself now speaks and vibrates through the material sunset and the landscape. The visible world now becomes the wall of the monad on which this “scream running through nature” (Munch’s words) is recorded and transcribed: one thinks of that character of Lautréamont who, growing up inside a scaled and silent membrane, on sight of the monstrousness of the deity, ruptures it with his own scream and thereby rejoins the world of sound and suffering. All of which suggests some more general historical hypothesis: namely, that concepts such as anxiety and alienation (and the experiences to which they correspond, as in The Scream) are no longer appropriate in the world of the postmodern (Jameson, 413-414).

14. This situation evidently determines what the architecture historians call “historicism”, namely the random cannibalization of all the styles of the past, the play of random stylistic allusion, and in general what Henri Lefebvre has called the increasing primacy of the “neo”. This omnipresence of pastiche is, however, not incompatible with a certain humor (nor is it innocent of all passion) or at least with addiction – with a whole historically original consumers’ appetite for a world transformed into sheer images of itself and for pseudo-events and “spectacles” (the term of the Situationists). It is for such objects that we may reserve Plato’s conception of the “simulacrum” – the identical copy for which no original has ever existed. Appropriately enough, the culture of the simulacrum comes to life in a society where exchange- value has been generalized to the point at which the very memory of use-value is effaced, a society of which Guy Debord has observed, in an extraordinary phrase, that in it “the image has become the final form of commodity reification” (The Society of the Spectacle). The new spatial logic of the simulacrum can now be expected to have a momentous effect on what used to be historical time. The past is thereby itself modified: what was once, in the historical novel as Lukács defines it, the organic genealogy of the bourgeois collective project – what is still, for the redemptive historiography of an E. P. Thompson or of American “oral history”, for the resurrection of the dead of anonymous and silenced generations, the retrospective dimension indispensable to any vital reorientation of our collective future – has meanwhile itself become a vast collection of images, a multitudinous photographic simulacrum. Guy Debord’s powerful slogan is now even more apt for the “prehistory” of a society bereft of all historicity, whose own putative past is little more than a set of dusty spectacles. In faithful conformity to poststructuralist linguistic theory, the past as “referent” finds itself gradually bracketed, and then effaced altogether, leaving us with nothing but texts (Jameson, 415-416).

15. A crisis in historicity, however, inscribes itself symptomally in several other curious formal features within this text. Its official subject is the transition from a pre- World- War I radical and working-class politics (the great strikes) to the technological invention and new commodity production of the 1920s (the rise of Hollywood and of the image as commodity): the interpolated version of Kleist’s Michael Kohlhaas, the strange tragic episode of the Black protagonist’s revolt, may be thought to be a moment related to this process. My point, however, is not some hypothesis as to the thematic coherence of this decentred narrative; but rather just the opposite, namely the way in which the kind of reading this novel imposes makes it virtually impossible for us to reach and to thematize those official “subjects” which float above the text but cannot be integrated into our reading of the sentences. In that sense, not only does the novel resist interpretation, it is organized systematically and formally to short-circuit an older type of social and historical interpretation which it perpetually holds out and withdraws. When we remember that the theoretical critique and repudiation of interpretation as such is a fundamental component of poststructuralist theory, it is difficult not to conclude that Doctorow has somehow deliberately built this very tension, this very contradiction, into the flow of his sentences (Jameson, 419).

16. I have found Lacan’s account of schizophrenia useful here, not because I have any way of knowing whether it has clinical accuracy, but chiefly because – as description rather than diagnosis – it seems to me to offer a suggestive aesthetic model… I am concerned radically to distance the spirit and the methodology of the present remarks: there are, one would think, far more damaging things to be said about our social system than are available through the use of psychological categories. Very briefly, Lacan describes schizophrenia as a breakdown in the signifying chain, that is, the interlocking syntagmatic series of signifiers which constitutes an utterance or a meaning… His conception of the signifying chain essentially presupposes one of the basic principles (and one of the great discoveries) of Saussurean structuralism, namely the proposition that mean- ing is not a one-to-one relationship between signifier and signified, between the materiality of language, between a word or a name, and its referent or concept. Meaning on the new view is generated by the movement from Signifier to Signifier: what we generally call the Signified – the meaning or conceptual content of an utterance – is now rather to be seen as a meaning- effect, as that objective mirage of signification generated and projected by the relationship of Signifiers among each other. When that relationship breaks down, when the links of the signifying chain snap, then we have schizophrenia in the form of a rubble of distinct and unrelated signifiers. The connection between this kind of linguistic malfunction and the psyche of the schizophrenic may then be grasped by way of a two-fold proposition: first, that personal identity is itself the effect of a certain temporal unification of past and future with the present before me; and second, that such active temporal unification is itself a function of language, or better still of the sentence, as it moves along its hermeneutic circle through time. If we are unable to unify the past, present and future of the sentence, then we are similarly unable to unify the past, present and future of our own biographical experience or psychic life. With the breakdown of the signifying chain, therefore, the schizophrenic is reduced to an experience of pure material Signifiers, or in other words of a series of pure and unrelated presents in time. We will want to ask questions about the aesthetic or cultural results of such a situation in a moment; let us first see what it feels like: “I remember very well the day it happened. We were staying in the country and I had gone for a walk alone as I did now and then. Suddenly, as I was passing the school, I heard a German song; the children were having a singing lesson. I stopped to listen, and at that instant a strange feeling came over me, a feeling hard to analyse but akin to something I was to know too well later – a disturbing sense of unreality. It seemed to me that I no longer recognized the school, it had become as large as a barracks; the singing children were prisoners, compelled to sing. It was as though the school and the children’s song were set apart from the rest of the world. At the same time my eye encountered a field of wheat whose limits I could not see. The yellow vastness, dazzling in the sun, bound up with the song of the children imprisoned in the smooth stone school-barracks, filled me with such anxiety that I broke into sobs. I ran home to our garden and began to play “to make things seem as they usually were,” that is, to return to reality. It was the first appearance of those elements which were always present in later sensations of unreality: illimitable vastness, brilliant light, and the gloss and smoothness of material things ”1 (Jameson, 419 - 420). 1. Marguerite Séchehaye, Autobiography of a Schizophrenic Girl, trans. by G. Rubin-Rabson, New York, 1968, p. 19.

17. The Apotheosis of Capitalism I am anxious that this other thing should not over hastily be grasped as technology per se, since I will want to show that technology is here itself a figure for something else. Yet technology may well serve as adequate shorthand to designate that enormous properly human and anti-natural power of dead human labour stored up in our machinery, an alienated power, what Sartre calls the counterfinality of the practico-inert, which turns back on and against us in unrecognizable forms and seems to constitute the massive dystopian horizon of our collective as well as our individual praxis. Technology is, however, on the Marxist view the result of the development of capital, rather than some primal cause in its own right. It will therefore be appropriate to distinguish several generations of machine power, several stages of technological revolution within capital itself. I here follow Ernest Mandel who outlines three such fundamental breaks or quantum leaps in the evolution of machinery under capital: “The fundamental revolutions in power technology – the technology of the production of motive machines by machines – thus appears as the determinant moment in revolutions of technology as a whole. Machine production of steam- driven motors since 1848; machine production of electric and combustion motors since the 90s of the 19th century; machine production of electronic and nuclear-powered apparatuses since the 40s of the 20th century – these are the three general revolutions in technology engendered by the capitalist mode of production since the ‘original’ industrial revolution of the later 18th century” (Late Capitalism, p. 18). The periodization underscores the general thesis of Mandel’s book Late Capitalism, namely that there have been three fundamental moments in capitalism, each one marking a dialectical expansion over the previous stage: these are market capitalism, the monopoly stage or the stage of imperialism, and our own – wrongly called postindustrial, but what might better be termed multinational capital. I have already pointed out that Mandel’s intervention in the postindustrial involves the proposition that late or multinational or consumer capitalism, far from being inconsistent with Marx’s great 19th-century analysis, constitutes on the contrary the purest form of capital yet to have emerged, a prodigious expansion of capital into hitherto uncommodified areas. This purer capitalism of our own time thus eliminates the enclaves of precapitalist organization it had hitherto tolerated and exploited in a tributary way: one is tempted to speak in this connection of a new and historically original penetration and colonization of Nature and the Uncon- scious: that is, the destruction of precapitalist third world agriculture by the Green Revolution, and the rise of the media and the advertising industry. At any rate, it will also have been clear that my own cultural periodization of the stages of realism, modernism and postmodernism is both inspired and confirmed by Mandel’s tripartite scheme. We may speak therefore of our own age as the Third (or even Fourth) Machine Age; and it is at this point that we must reintroduce the problem of aesthetic representation already explicitly developed in Kant’s earlier analysis of the sublime – since it would seem only logical that the relationship to, and representation of, the machine could be expected to shift dialectically with each of these qualitatively different stages of technological development (Jameson, 423 -424).

18. An aesthetic of cognitive mapping – a pedagogical political culture which seeks to endow the individual subject with some new heightened sense of its place in the global system – will necessarily have to respect this now enormously complex representational dialectic and to invent radically new forms in order to do it justice. This is not, then, clearly a call for a return to some older kind of machinery, some older and more transparent national space, or some more traditional and reassuring perspectival or mimetic enclave: the new political art – if it is indeed possible at all – will have to hold to the truth of postmodernism, that is to say, to its fundamental object – the world space of multinational capital – at the same time at which it achieves a breakthrough to some as yet unimaginable new mode of representing this last, in which we may again begin to grasp our positioning as individual and collective subjects and regain a capacity to act and struggle which is at present neutralized by our spatial as well as our social confusion. The political form of postmodernism, if there ever is any, will have as its vocation the invention and projection of a global cognitive mapping, on a social as well as a spatial scale (Jameson, 433).

19. I proceed now to examine early modernization theory, its contemporary reconstruction, and the vigorous intellectual alternatives that arose in the period between. I will insist throughout on the relation of these theoretical developments to social and cultural history, for only in this way can we understand social theory not only as science but also as an ideology in the sense made famous by Geertz (1973). For unless we recognize the interpenetration of science and ideology in social theory, neither element can be evaluated or clarified in a rational way. With this stricture in mind, I delineate four distinctive theoretical-cum-ideological periods in postwar social thought: modernization theory and romantic liberalism; antimodernization the- ory and heroic radicalism; postmodern theory and comic detachment; and the emerging phase of neo-modernization or reconvergence theory, which seems to combine the narrative forms of each of its predecessors on the post-war scene (Alexander, 166)

20. Drawing from a centuries-long tradition of evolutionary and Enlightenment inspired theories of social change, "modernization" theory as such was born with the publication of Marian Levy's book on Chinese family structure (1949) and died some time in the mid-60s, during one of those extraordinarily heated rites of spring that marked student uprisings, antiwar movements, and newly humanist socialist regimes, and which preceded the long hot summers of the race riots and Black Consciousness movement in the U.S. Modernization theory can and certainly should be evaluated as a scientific theory, in the postpositivist, wissenschaftliche sense. As an explanatory effort, the modernization model was characterized by the following ideal-typical traits. 1. Societies were conceived as coherently organized systems whose subsystems were closely interdependent. 2. 2. Historical development was parsed into two ty pes of social systems, the traditional and the modern, statuses which were held to determine the character of their societal subsystems in determinate ways. 3. The modern was defined with reference to the social organization and culture of specifically Western societies, which were typified as individualistic, democratic, capitalist, scientific, secular, and stable, and as dividing work from home in gender-specific ways. 4. As an historical process, modernization was held to involve nonrevolutionary, incremental change. 5. The historical evolution to modernity – modernization - was viewed as likely to succeed, thus assuring that traditional societies would be provided with the resources for what Parsons (1966) called a general process of adaptive "upgrading," including economic takeoff to industrialization, democratization via law, and secularization and science via education (Alexander, 168-169). Wissenschaftliche- 1. scientific; 2. scholarly

21. In the juxtaposition between these formulations of modernity, socialism, and capitalism there lies a story. They describe not only competing theoreti cal positions but deep shifts in historical sensibility. We must understand both together, I believe, if either contemporary history or contemporary theory is to be understood at all. Social scientists and historians have long talked about "the transition." An historical phrase, a social struggle, a moral transformation for better or for worse, the term referred, of course, to the movement from feudalism to capitalism. For Marxists, the transition initiated the unequal and contradictory system that produced its antithesis, socialism and equality. For liberals, the transition represented an equally momentous transformation of traditional society but created a set of historical alternatives -democracy, capitalism, contracts and civil society - that did not have a moral or social counterfactual like socialism ready to hand. In the last five years, for the first time in the history of social science, "the transition" has come to mean something that neither of these earlier treatments could have foreseen. It is the transition from communism to capitalism, a phrase that seems oxymoronic even to our chastened ears. The sense of world-historical transformation remains, but the straight line of history seems to be running in re verse (Alexander, 166).

22. For postmodernism, the new code, modernism: post modernism, implied a larger break with "universalist" Western values than did the traditionalism: modernism of the immediate postwar period or the capitalist modernism: socialist anti-modernization dichotomy that succeeded it. In narrative terms as well there are much greater deflationary shifts. Although there remains, to be sure, a romantic tenor in some strands of postmodernist thought, and even collectivist arguments for heroic liberation, these "constructive" versions (Thompson 1992; Rosenau 1992) focus on the personal and the intimate and tend to be offshoots of social movements of the 1960s, e.g., gay and lesbian "struggles," the women's "movement," and the ecology activists like Greens. Insofar as they do engage public policy, such movements articulate their demands much more in the language of difference and particularism (e.g., Seidman 1991 and 1992) than in the universalistic terms of the collective good. The principal, and certainly the most distinctive thrust of the postmodern narrative, moreover, is strikingly different. Rejecting not only heroism but romanticism as well, it tends to be more fatalistic, critical, and resigned, in short more comically agnostic, than these more political movements of uplift and reform suggest. Rather than upholding the authenticity of the individual, postmodernism announced, via Foucault and Derrida, the death of the subject. In Jameson's words, "the conception of a unique self and private identity [are] thing[s] of the past." Another departure from the earlier, more romantic version of modernism is the singular absence of irony (Alexander, 180-181).

23. Despite this new and more sophisticated form, however, what I will later call neo- modern theory will remain as much myth as science (Barbour 1974), as much narrative as explanation (Entrikin 1991). Even if one believes, as I do, that such a broader and more sophisticated theory of social development is now historically compelling, it remains the case that every general theory of social change is rooted not only in cognition but in existence, that it possesses a surplus of meaning in Ricoeur's (1977) deeply suggestive phrase. Modernity, after all, has always been a highly relativist term (Pocock 1987, Habermas 1981, Bourricaud 1987). It emerged in the fifth century when newly Christianized Romans wished to distinguish their religiosity from two forms of barbarians, the heathens of antiquity and the unregenerate Jews. In medieval times, modernity was reinvented as a term implying cultivation and learning, which allowed contemporary intellectuals to identify backward, with the classical learning of the Greek and Ro man heathens themselves. With the Enlightenment, modernity became identified with rationality, science, and forward progress, a semantically arbitrary relationship that seems to have held steady to this day. Who can doubt that, sooner or later, a new historical period will displace this second "age of equipoise" (Burn 1974) into which we have so inadvertently but fortuitously slipped. New contradictions will emerge and competing sets of world-historical possibilities will arise, and it is unlikely that they will be viewed in terms of the emerging neo-modernization frame (Alexander, 167).

24. Finally, modernization, even if it does triumph, does not necessarily increase social contentment. It may be that the more highly developed a society, the more it produces, encourages, and relies upon strident and often utopian expressions of alienation and criticism (Durkheim 1937). To understand modernization theory and its fate, then, we must examine it not only as a scientific theory but as an ideology - not in the mechanistic Marxist or more broadly Enlightenment sense (e.g., Boudon 1986) of "false consciousness" but in the Geertzian (1973) one. Modernization theory was a symbolic system that functioned not only to explain the world in a rational way, but to interpret the world in a manner that provided "meaning and motivation" (Bellah 1970b). It functioned as a metalanguage that instructed people how to live. Intellectuals must interpret the world, not simply change or even explain it. To do so in a meaningful, reassuring, or inspiring manner fashion means that intellectuals must make distinctions. They must do so especially in regard to phases of history. If intellectuals are to define the "meaning" of their "time", they must identify a time that preceded the present, offer a morally compelling account of why it was superseded, and tell their audiences whether or not such a transformation will be repeated vis-a vis the world they live in. This is, of course, merely to say that intellectuals produce historical narratives about their own time (Alexander, 167).

25. On the right, engagement in the Cold War provided for some intellectuals a new field for collective heroism, despite the fact that America's most influential modernist thinkers were not as a rule Cold Warriors of the most righteous kind. On the Left, both within and outside the U.S., there were important islands of social criticism that made self-conscious departures from Romanticism of both a Social Democratic and individualist ironic sort. Intellectuals influenced by the Frankfurt school, like Mills and Riesman, and other critics, like Arendt, refused to legitimate the humanism of this individualist turn, criticizing what they called the new mass society as forcing individuals into an amoral, egotistical mode. They inverted modernization theory's binary code, viewing American rationality as instrumental rather than moral and expressive, big science as technocratic rather than inventive. They saw conformity rather than independence; power elites rather than democracy; and deception and disappointment rather than authenticity, responsibility, and romance. In the 50s and early 60s, these social critics did not become highly influential. To do so they would have had to pose a compelling alternative, a new heroic narrative to describe how the sick society could be transformed and a healthy one put in its place. This was impossible to do in the deflationary times. Fromm's Art of Loving (1956) followed his denunciation of The Sane Society (1956); in the fifties, social solutions often were contained in individual acts of private love. No social program issued from Adorno's Authoritarian Personality (1950). Not only did C. Wright Mills fail to identify any viable social alternatives in his stream of critical studies, but he went out of his way to denounce the leaders of the social movements of the thirties and forties as "the new men of power" (Mills 1948). After nearly twenty years of violence producing utopian hopes, collective heroics had lost their sheen. The right-wing populism of McCarthy reinforced the withdrawal from public life. Eventually, however, Americans and Western Europeans did catch their breath, with results that must be related, once again, to history and social theory alike (Alexander, 174-175).

26. What pushed modernization theory over the edge, however, were not these scientific alternatives in and of themselves. Indeed, as I have indicated, the revisors of the earlier theory had themselves begun to offer coherent, equally explanatory theories for many of the same phenomena. The decisive fact in modernization theory's defeat, rather, was the destruction of its ideological, discursive, and mythological core. The challenge that finally could not be met was existential. It emerged from new social movements that were increasingly viewed in terms of collective emancipation - peasant revolutions on a world-wide scale, black and Chicano national movements, indigenous people's rebellions, youth culture, hippies, rock music, and women's liberation. Because these movements (e.g., Weiner 1984), profoundly altered the Zeitgeist - the experienced tempo of the times - they captured the ideological imaginations of the rising cadre of intellectuals. In order to represent this shifting empirical and existential environment, intellectuals developed a new explanatory theory. Equally significant, they inverted the binary code of modernization and "narrated the social" (Sherwood 1994) in a new way. In terms of code, "modernity" and "modern ization" moved from the sacred to the profane side of historical time, with modernity assuming many of the crucial characteristics that had earlier been associated with traditionalism and backwardness. Rather than democracy and individualization, the contemporary modern period was represented as bureaucratic and repressive. Rather than a free market or contractual society, modern America be came "capitalist," no longer rational, interdependent, modern, and liberating but backward, greedy, anarchic, and impoverishing. • This inversion of the sign and symbols associated with modernity polluted the movements associat ed with its name. The death of liberalism (Lowi, 1969) was announced, and its reformist origins in the early twentieth century dismissed as a camouflage for extending corporate control (Weinstein 1968, Kolko 1967). [176]

27. Postmodern theory, then, may be seen, in rather precise terms, as an attempt to redress the problem of meaning created by the experienced failure of "the sixties." Only in this way can we understand why the very dichotomy between modern and postmodern was announced, and why the contents of these new historical categories are described in the ways they are. From the perspective developed here, the answers seem clear enough. Continuity with the earlier period of antimodern radicalism is maintained by the fact that postmodernism, too, takes "the modern" as its explicit foe. In the binary coding of this intellectual ideology, modernity re mains on the polluted side, representing "the other" in postmodernism' s narrative tales. Yet, in this third phase of postwar social theory, the contents of the modern are completely changed. Radical intellectuals had emphasized the privacy and particularism of modern capitalism, its provinciality, and the fatalism and resignation it produced. The post-modernization alternative they posited was, not postmodern, but public, heroic, collective, and universal. It is precisely these latter qualities, of course, that postmodernization theory has condemned as the very embodiment of modernity itself. In contrast, they have coded privacy, di minished expectations, subjectivism, individuality, particularity, and localism as the embodiments of the good. As for narrative, the major historical propositions of postmodernism -the decline of the grand narrative and the return to the local (Lyotard 1984), the rise of the empty symbol, or simulacrum (Baudrillard 1983), the end of socialism (Gorz 1982), the emphasis on plurality and difference (Seidman 1991, 1992) -are transparent representations of a deflationary narrative frame. They are responses to the decline of "progressive" ideologies and their utopian beliefs. The resemblances to radical antimodernism, then, are superficial and misleading. In fact, there is a much more significant connection between post modernism and the period that preceded radicalism, that is, modernization theory itself. Modernization theory, we recall, was itself a deflationary ideology following an earlier heroic period of radical quest. It, too, contained emphases on the private, the personal, and the local (Alexander, 1980).

28. But whatever the particular perspective that has framed this new political idea, its neo-modern status is plain to see. Theorizing in this manner suggests that contemporary societies either possess, or must aspire to, not only an economic market but a distinctive political zone, an institutional field of universal if contested domain (Touraine 1994). It provides a common empirical point of referent, which implies a familiar coding of citizen and enemy, and allows history to be narrated, once again, in a teleological manner that gives the drama of democracy full force (186-187). In regard to these secondary elaborations, what strikes one is how difficult it has been to develop a set of binary cate gories that is semantically and socially compelling, a black-versus-white contrast that can function as a successor code to postmodern: modern or, for that matter, to the socialist: capitalist and modern: tra ditional symbolic sets that were established by ear lier intellectual generations, and which by no means have entirely lost their efficacy today.

29. Perhaps it is wise to acknowledge that it is a renewed sense of involvement in the project of universalism, rather than some lipid sense of its concrete forms, that marks the character of the new age in which we live. Beneath this new layer of the social top soil, moreover, there lies the tangled roots and richly marbled subsoil of earlier intellectual generations, whose ideologies and theories have not ceased to be alive. The struggles between these interlocutors can be intimidating and confusing, not only because of the intrinsic difficulty of their message but because each presents itself not as form but as essence, not as the only language in which the world makes sense but as the only real sense of the world. Each of these worlds does make sense, but only in an historically bounded way. Recently, a new social world has come into being. We must try to make sense of it. For the task of intellectuals is not only to explain the world; they must interpret it as well (192).

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