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Source: (consider it) Thread: Post modernism is illiberal
Makepiece
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This OP is in support of the headline. I'm coming from the perspective that post modernism is politically illiberal even though it is often mistakenly labelled as 'liberal'. The classic liberal position is that the government should minimise the extent to which it subscribes to particular moral views at the public level but should protect the rights of citizens to subscribe to such views in the private sphere. This approach to liberal government has been very successful at arbitrating between competing conceptions of the good for several hundred years. It can be summarised, as it has been by Rawls, as thin conceptions of the good in the public sphere in order to facilitate thick coneptions of the good in the private sphere.

It seems to me that post modernism does the precise opposite. Under post modern thought the government ought to govern by its own thick conceptions of the good in the public sphere in order to require its citizens to only have thin coneptions of the good in the private sphere. Of course what this actually does is to eradicate the distinction between a public and private sphere. If the government's thick values of the good prevail in society and citizens are required to not form their own view on these issues then effectivel the public is the private and the state has overrun society. This is not in any sense liberal. Radical yes. Liberal no. This seems to me to be the reason why debate is being shut down by lefty radicals. I have noticed recently that even abortion is becoming taboo as an arena of debate in spite of the fact that those who are in favour of it have no real moral clarity. Effectively the objective moral position is irrelevant in a post modern world. If the government subscribes to something then there is no scope for an alternative view point.

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mousethief

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Can we have some examples? What is an example of thick public and thin private, and who is advocating it, and based on what justification?

As for abortion, nobody is "for" abortion. People are "for" choice. Which is thick private. The government is not forcing anybody to have an abortion. The government is not forcing anybody to like abortion. The government is allowing people to have them who choose to. Which is poster child for thin public thick private.

[ 05. August 2017, 22:28: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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Barnabas62
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I'm not sure about the connection with postmodernism. As is well known, postmodernism is sceptical of metanarratives, which I think would include a 'thick' view or a 'thin' view of matters of public and private morality.

This is my truth, what's yours? That hardly seems designed to stifle debate about anything.

I suppose you might think that modern expressions of liberalism are not very liberal, but liberalism has never been synonymous with postmodernism anyway.

I wonder if your concerns are about tolerance?

[ 05. August 2017, 22:33: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Cod
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Lefty radicals are modernist rather than post-modernist, aren't they? Modernism has had some very illiberal manifestations.

I think some examples would help.

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RuthW

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quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
Under post modern thought the government ought to govern by its own thick conceptions of the good in the public sphere in order to require its citizens to only have thin coneptions of the good in the private sphere.

Could you give an example of a post-modernist thinker who makes this argument? Or someone whose writing could be used to support this argument?
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simontoad
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what are 'thick' and 'thin' conceptions of public and private good?

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ThunderBunk

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I'm not sure if the following is in the spirit of the OP, but this is my take on the issue, which I think is supportive of the proposition.

Liberal positions, if not liberalism itself (definitions of which abound and mostly conflict), are characteristically built on the foundation of a metanarrative. To take provision of health services, the liberal position has it that is protective of the public good for access to a wide range of health services to be guaranteed, and that the state is the best means of ensuring this provision, because it will not withdraw in the face of economic or other factors propelling it in that direction. Thus, the liberal position drives the state to become at least the guarantor of health services, and ultimately supports it in becoming the provider of such services as the most comprehensive and efficient means of securing the guarantee.

Postmodernism, through its suspicion of metanarratives, would tend to erode this definition of the public good until it collapsed under its own weight, putting in its place (if anything) a mechanism for ensuring that whatever services are offered do not do harm, and then simply allow all those with the means to do so to provide services at whatever price they can get for them. This is essentially illiberal in its outcome because it cements inequality on economic lines, rather than undermining it. It also completely separates access to vital services from citizenship, which is another element of the liberal, "thick" version of public good - that it is the job of the state to secure the public good and that access to the resultant services are a fruit of citizenship and not of economic power.

This is where I believe postmodernism is incredibly harmful when it spreads beyond its proper philosophical sphere. At its best it can allow the ethical to interrogate the moral, and indeed all individual circumstances to interrogate narratives blind to them. At its worst, it destroys all attempts at collective action, thought and representation, reduces every social interaction to an economic or quasi-economic transaction and makes all people into passive consumers, ideal victims of the whims of corporations which become the only legitimate actors in a post-modern "society", as omni-providers/enablers of individual consumption.

[ 06. August 2017, 07:34: Message edited by: ThunderBunk ]

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ThunderBunk

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It has just occurred to me that the above has a tl;dr version, on the following lines:

Neo-liberalism embraces postmodernism, and in doing so entirely destroys the truly liberal on application to the economic and political spheres.

[ 06. August 2017, 07:54: Message edited by: ThunderBunk ]

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Enoch
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Not sure I can follow the arguments, but dogmatic, intolerant radicalism is no innovation. So it is nothing new that enables one to be attribute it to postmodernism - whatever that word means. One has only got to read the history of Bolshevism from 1917 in the most cursory manner to recognise that. If you don't agree, try reading up a bit on life in Republican Barcelona in 1936-7. Orwell is good on it.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
what are 'thick' and 'thin' conceptions of public and private good?

The contrast between thin concepts and thick concepts is for example that between good and generous. 'Generous' is a thick concept: it doesn't just say that something is the right thing to do but says why it is the right thing. 'Good' is a thin concept: it just says that something is right. Thick concepts depend upon systems of values and have factual content (if someone believes charity encourages dependency and so never gives money away he may or may not be right but he certainly isn't generous); thin concepts are abstract concepts that have little factual content.

I am not sure whether that is what the OP is using the terms to mean.

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Makepiece
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Can we have some examples? What is an example of thick public and thin private, and who is advocating it, and based on what justification?

As for abortion, nobody is "for" abortion. People are "for" choice. Which is thick private. The government is not forcing anybody to have an abortion. The government is not forcing anybody to like abortion. The government is allowing people to have them who choose to. Which is poster child for thin public thick private.

For me the issue with post modernism is more one of freedom of expression and debate. What happens when say a doctor wants to refrain from treatment that facilitates adoption? My understanding is that at the moment a doctor can be guided by their conscience and choose to not do this. Post modernism seems to me to be pushing this in a direction in which the moral choice is made for the said doctor at the public level and the doctor is required to abide by that. Now of course some would say that is because the doctor is in the 'pubic' sphere but this is precisely where I feel the boundaries between public and private are becoming blurred. The Ashers Bakery case is a classic example. The government has decided that same sex marriage ought to be legal and the Ashers are not merely required to tolerate that they are required to promote that. The government's thick conception of the good is required to displace the Ashers thick conception and they are legally obliged to adopt a thin conception to accomodate this.

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Makepiece
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
I'm not sure about the connection with postmodernism. As is well known, postmodernism is sceptical of metanarratives, which I think would include a 'thick' view or a 'thin' view of matters of public and private morality.

This is my truth, what's yours? That hardly seems designed to stifle debate about anything.

I suppose you might think that modern expressions of liberalism are not very liberal, but liberalism has never been synonymous with postmodernism anyway.

I wonder if your concerns are about tolerance?

Yes, my concerns are about tolerance but liberalism was designed precisely to facilitate tolerance. Competing conceptions of the good are free to be expressed in the private sphere and the governments role is to ensure that a person can do this without interference.

The direction that we are moving in is to say that citizens aren't allowed to have meta narratives because they are bad. The problem is that meta narratives are unavoidable and so what we have is meta narratives applied at the public level but quashed in the private sphere. The opposite of liberalism. For support for my view that meta narratives are unavoidable see 'Sources of the Self' by Charles Taylor.

[ 06. August 2017, 08:57: Message edited by: Makepiece ]

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Makepiece
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quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:
quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
Under post modern thought the government ought to govern by its own thick conceptions of the good in the public sphere in order to require its citizens to only have thin coneptions of the good in the private sphere.

Could you give an example of a post-modernist thinker who makes this argument? Or someone whose writing could be used to support this argument?
I'm not aware of a post modern thinker who explicitly makes the argument. Indeed if they were to make the argument they would explicitly be endorsing a meta narrative. The problem is that if Charles Taylor is correct that meta narratives are unavoidable then the result of squeezing out meta narratives in the private sphere will inevitably lead to an overbearing government imposing its own meta narrative. One of my difficulties with post modernists is that they don't try to deal with things as they really are. This may be because they deny that 'the thing in itself' exists?

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Enoch
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Why is that 'postmodern', rather than just authoritarian?

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:
quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
Under post modern thought the government ought to govern by its own thick conceptions of the good in the public sphere in order to require its citizens to only have thin coneptions of the good in the private sphere.

Could you give an example of a post-modernist thinker who makes this argument? Or someone whose writing could be used to support this argument?
I'm not aware of a post modern thinker who explicitly makes the argument. Indeed if they were to make the argument they would explicitly be endorsing a meta narrative. The problem is that if Charles Taylor is correct that meta narratives are unavoidable then the result of squeezing out meta narratives in the private sphere will inevitably lead to an overbearing government imposing its own meta narrative. One of my difficulties with post modernists is that they don't try to deal with things as they really are. This may be because they deny that 'the thing in itself' exists?
Over bearing govern ment? Is n't that a meta narrative?

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Makepiece
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Why is that 'postmodern', rather than just authoritarian?

Because it is based on a contemporary theory which labels itself as 'post modern' and pretends that it is not authoritarian. It is much closer to pre-liberal models however it differs in one very important respect in that it is secular in character. This is where much of the confusion arises from I think. Secularism was originally developed as a neutral arbiter between competing religious outlooks but it has now evolved into a competing outlook itself. As a result people still feel that 'secularist' is equivalent to 'liberal' but it is not. As soon as secularism ceases to be a neutral arbiter and becomes a competing world view it ceases to be liberal and becomes radical.

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quetzalcoatl
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A rather baffling OP. Is the target various famous postmodern thinkers such as Lyotard or Derrida?

Or certain governments? Which ones?

Lefty radicals - hmm, are they actually postmodern thinkers? I would have thought not, since pm is pluralist and skeptical of grand narratives, well, in most renditions of it.

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Arethosemyfeet
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I think the far right buzz phrase the OP is searching for is "cultural Marxism".
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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
I think the far right buzz phrase the OP is searching for is "cultural Marxism".

Is that it? Find a set of boo-words, which the right wing can froth over. I suppose postmodernism fits in here, although based on how much knowledge? Marxism hardly fits in within pm. I think there have been criticisms of pm by Marxists, e.g. Eagleton and Jameson, ('Ideology: an Introduction', and 'Postmodernism' respectively), partly because Marxism is a grand narrative par excellence.

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Arethosemyfeet
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The buzz phrase doesn't have to actually have anything to do with the meaning of the words; it's just that usually when there is a rant about how not being allowed to discriminate is the REAL oppression it's accompanied by denunciations of "cultural Marxism". It serves as a useful catchall to condemn anything from racial equality to sex education.
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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
The Ashers Bakery case is a classic example. The government has decided that same sex marriage ought to be legal and the Ashers are not merely required to tolerate that they are required to promote that.

No. This is where your problem lies. The government decided that baking a cake WASN'T promoting that. You may disagree, but you can't map your concept back onto their decision and conclude things about their intent. That's dishonest.

And really if we follow your line of reasoning here, don't we arrive at a point where the government shouldn't promote ANY civil rights or "force" people to treat other people a certain way, say, civilly?

[ 06. August 2017, 14:57: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
Because it is based on a contemporary theory which labels itself as 'post modern' and pretends that it is not authoritarian. It is much closer to pre-liberal models however it differs in one very important respect in that it is secular in character. This is where much of the confusion arises from I think. Secularism was originally developed as a neutral arbiter between competing religious outlooks but it has now evolved into a competing outlook itself. As a result people still feel that 'secularist' is equivalent to 'liberal' but it is not. As soon as secularism ceases to be a neutral arbiter and becomes a competing world view it ceases to be liberal and becomes radical.

Help me understand: you are saying that a government which says black people should not be treated different to white people is authoritarian because it doesn't allow the prejudices of a minority affect the life-chances of another group in society?

How does that work?

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Help me understand: you are saying that a government which says black people should not be treated different to white people is authoritarian because it doesn't allow the prejudices of a minority affect the life-chances of another group in society?

Indeed. If that's the case, I'd say authoritarianism is no bad thing, and what's bad would be abuses of authoritarianism.

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
The buzz phrase doesn't have to actually have anything to do with the meaning of the words; it's just that usually when there is a rant about how not being allowed to discriminate is the REAL oppression it's accompanied by denunciations of "cultural Marxism". It serves as a useful catchall to condemn anything from racial equality to sex education.

Of course, there's the common joke today that Trump is the first postmodern president, in the sense that notions of truth and factuality have been dissolved. Instead, we have a world of images, which are 'hyperreal', and where the surface of reality is dominant over any 'depth', and words mean exactly what I want them to mean.

Well, it's not really funny.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
Indeed. If that's the case, I'd say authoritarianism is no bad thing, and what's bad would be abuses of authoritarianism.

It seems to me to be quite a weird use of the term "authoritarian" to use it when the government protects the equality rights of a minority. We might well use it when a minority has extended rights compared to the majority or when the majority have impared rights compared to a small minority.

But using it when a group is simply getting what everyone else gets by rights - well I just can't see any reason for calling that authoritarian. I'd go further and say that those who are complaining of authoritarianism are those who were in a privileged position and are objecting to other people they don't like getting rights that they feel only they should have.

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Makepiece
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
Because it is based on a contemporary theory which labels itself as 'post modern' and pretends that it is not authoritarian. It is much closer to pre-liberal models however it differs in one very important respect in that it is secular in character. This is where much of the confusion arises from I think. Secularism was originally developed as a neutral arbiter between competing religious outlooks but it has now evolved into a competing outlook itself. As a result people still feel that 'secularist' is equivalent to 'liberal' but it is not. As soon as secularism ceases to be a neutral arbiter and becomes a competing world view it ceases to be liberal and becomes radical.

Help me understand: you are saying that a government which says black people should not be treated different to white people is authoritarian because it doesn't allow the prejudices of a minority affect the life-chances of another group in society?

How does that work?

I didn't say that anywhere. Please point me to the precise place where I said that? I don't believe that I've commented on whether post modernism is right or wrong at all. I have simply commented on whether it is liberal or illiberal.

It seems to me to be entirely compatible for a liberal government to promote civil rights. The problem with the USA in C19 was not with the freedoms it permitted to people but rather that those freedoms were denied to people of a particular of a race. That is not illiberal at all. However if I were to ask a racist to bake me a cake and write the message 'all races are equal' on it and they refused and the law were to require to them to do it that would be illiberal. It may or may not be the right thing to do but it is not 'liberal' because the state has ceased to be neutral with regard to competing views. That goes beyond merely guaranteeing freedoms.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
I didn't say that anywhere. Please point me to the precise place where I said that? I don't believe that I've commented on whether post modernism is right or wrong at all. I have simply commented on whether it is liberal or illiberal.

You've said a lot of stuff which you might have gathered the rest of us don't understand.

quote:
It seems to me to be entirely compatible for a liberal government to promote civil rights. The problem with the USA in C19 was not with the freedoms it permitted to people but rather that those freedoms were denied to people of a particular of a race. That is not illiberal at all.
I don't understand how this relates to this:

quote:
Because it is based on a contemporary theory which labels itself as 'post modern' and pretends that it is not authoritarian.
So how is this contemporary theory, and presumably contemporary society, authoritarian? What are you on about?

quote:
However if I were to ask a racist to bake me a cake and write the message 'all races are equal' on it and they refused and the law were to require to them to do it that would be illiberal. It may or may not be the right thing to do but it is not 'liberal' because the state has ceased to be neutral with regard to competing views. That goes beyond merely guaranteeing freedoms.
But you appear to be fine with a baker deciding to not sell doughnuts to a black person because they're black. Or are you?

I don't understand the stuff you're writing. If you want a sensible response, try formulating your prose in a way that others can understand.

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Makepiece
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
The Ashers Bakery case is a classic example. The government has decided that same sex marriage ought to be legal and the Ashers are not merely required to tolerate that they are required to promote that.

No. This is where your problem lies. The government decided that baking a cake WASN'T promoting that. You may disagree, but you can't map your concept back onto their decision and conclude things about their intent. That's dishonest.

And really if we follow your line of reasoning here, don't we arrive at a point where the government shouldn't promote ANY civil rights or "force" people to treat other people a certain way, say, civilly?

I don't think the decision did find that it was not PROMOTING that. The court of appeal accepted that the right to freedom of belief was engaged. The decision was based on the fact that the state can infringe on freedom of belief if it is 'proportionate' to do so. The Court of Appeal decided that state prosecution was proportionate.

The prominent gay rights campaigner recognised that this case set a dangerous precedent for undermining freedom of expression and I'm sure that he does not share your view that protecting freedom of expression in that case would have undermined civil rights generally. On the contrary opposition to the decision was based on the protection of civil rights- the protection of freedom of expression and belief.

It seems to me that if the state were to say to a group of people you are not allowed to prevent this other group of people from voting, the state is neutral. It has a thin conception of the good in that it has no right to determine how people exercise the vote or whether or not people choose to vote. Indeed voting is an interesting example to consider as I have heard far more frequently in recent years from radicals questioning whether or not people without degrees are qualified to vote on certain matters. In a society in which only the state is allowed to have a thick conception of the good the legitimacy of voting becomes highly questionable because people are exercising thick conceptions when they vote.

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Makepiece
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:


[QUOTE]However if I were to ask a racist to bake me a cake and write the message 'all races are equal' on it and they refused and the law were to require to them to do it that would be illiberal. It may or may not be the right thing to do but it is not 'liberal' because the state has ceased to be neutral with regard to competing views. That goes beyond merely guaranteeing freedoms.

But you appear to be fine with a baker deciding to not sell doughnuts to a black person because they're black. Or are you?

I don't understand the stuff you're writing. If you want a sensible response, try formulating your prose in a way that others can understand.

Absolutely not! I am in no way fine with a baker deciding to not sell doughnuts to a black person on the grounds of race or indeed to a homosexual on the grounds of their sexual orientation. It also seems to me to be 'liberal' to make such discrimination illegal as it it 'neutral'. The state doesn't determine whether or not a lifestyle is acceptable or unacceptable by saying that a person has the right to buy good from a shop regardless of the lifestyle. The state ceases to be neutral, and thus not liberal, however when it starts to say that a particular belief has to be endorsed when the doughnut is sold.

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Makepiece
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I notice that I didn't include Peter Tatchell's name in the reply to Mousethief. That is who I'm referring to for the avoidance of doubt.

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Makepiece
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
quote:
Originally posted by Arethosemyfeet:
The buzz phrase doesn't have to actually have anything to do with the meaning of the words; it's just that usually when there is a rant about how not being allowed to discriminate is the REAL oppression it's accompanied by denunciations of "cultural Marxism". It serves as a useful catchall to condemn anything from racial equality to sex education.

Of course, there's the common joke today that Trump is the first postmodern president, in the sense that notions of truth and factuality have been dissolved. Instead, we have a world of images, which are 'hyperreal', and where the surface of reality is dominant over any 'depth', and words mean exactly what I want them to mean.

Well, it's not really funny.

Yes precisely. Post modernists on the left don't seem to recognise that they have created Trump by stifling moral views in the private sphere. On the one hand they say you ought to subscribe to no moral view at all but then on the other hand they say that Trump is immoral (except of course that they don't use the word 'immoral' because they have to pretend that they don't subscribe to a meta narrative).

I'm not particularly coming from a right wing perspective by the way. I'm not even saying that we ought to maintain liberalism. What I am saying is that liberalism has been very successful over the last few centuries and we ought to give a great deal of thought to the implications of its erosion by post mordernism.

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quetzalcoatl
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Absurd to say that the left have created Trump. Should we not look instead at the unreality of modern society, where imagery dominates, and PR supersedes most things.

This isn't just about postmodernism but the whole realm of alienation, fetishism, hello Karl, Entfremdung, in his parlance.

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Makepiece
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# 10454

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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Absurd to say that the left have created Trump. Should we not look instead at the unreality of modern society, where imagery dominates, and PR supersedes most things.

This isn't just about postmodernism but the whole realm of alienation, fetishism, hello Karl, Entfremdung, in his parlance.

Its not absurd. It seems to me that what post modernists see as the alternative to a meta narrative is immediate, unconditioned subjectivity. That is one reason why promiscuity has become more popular. When someone experiences an impulsive desire to hae sex they are told to follow that desire without stopping to think about the moral implications with very few exceptions. Leftists have been promoting such empty headedness for the past 50 years or so. Trump has been promiscuous, at least in the past, because he subscribes to the primacy of subjective experience. People should not be surprised that prioritising subjective experience leads to the sort of caprice that we see from Trump.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
Its not absurd. It seems to me that what post modernists see as the alternative to a meta narrative is immediate, unconditioned subjectivity. That is one reason why promiscuity has become more popular. When someone experiences an impulsive desire to hae sex they are told to follow that desire without stopping to think about the moral implications with very few exceptions. Leftists have been promoting such empty headedness for the past 50 years or so. Trump has been promiscuous, at least in the past, because he subscribes to the primacy of subjective experience. People should not be surprised that prioritising subjective experience leads to the sort of caprice that we see from Trump.

The left has been promoting promiscuity, Trump is promiscuous therefore the left has been promoting Trump.

This is too stupid to even try to refute.

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Makepiece
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# 10454

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
Its not absurd. It seems to me that what post modernists see as the alternative to a meta narrative is immediate, unconditioned subjectivity. That is one reason why promiscuity has become more popular. When someone experiences an impulsive desire to hae sex they are told to follow that desire without stopping to think about the moral implications with very few exceptions. Leftists have been promoting such empty headedness for the past 50 years or so. Trump has been promiscuous, at least in the past, because he subscribes to the primacy of subjective experience. People should not be surprised that prioritising subjective experience leads to the sort of caprice that we see from Trump.

The left has been promoting promiscuity, Trump is promiscuous therefore the left has been promoting Trump.

This is too stupid to even try to refute.

If you read carefully your summary is not how I put it. What I am saying is that the left has been promoting the primacy of subjective experience, Trump prioritises his own subjective experience over rational, objective thought and so the left has 'created' (not promoted) Trump. What I'm saying is that Trump is amoral and the left has promoted the amoral culture in which amoral people like Trump have matured. Yes, sexual ethics is one example of that but it is his capricious nature in general which arises from the lack of any moral code. I'm trying to make the point that you can't apply one rule to the left and another to the right. If the left are allowed to be whimsical then the right are allowed tobe as well. If the left want Trump to be 'moral' then they have to be 'moral' as well.

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Arethosemyfeet
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Not considering the same things immoral as you is not the same as being amoral. It was the right, including many self-proclaimed evangelical Christians, who have been defending Trump. It is also the right that continue to deny that economic behaviour has any moral character. The left, in my experience, has plenty to say about morality, it just doesn't believe that personal morality is an appropriate subject for state regulation.

Additionally, it's nonsense to link Trump's behaviour to any change is perceptions of morality - powerful men have sexually abused women (and chikdren) for millennia, with a blind eye often turned by patriarchal cultures. It's only the left drawing attention to it and making it unacceptable that makes Trump stand out.

[ 06. August 2017, 19:57: Message edited by: Arethosemyfeet ]

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
But using it when a group is simply getting what everyone else gets by rights - well I just can't see any reason for calling that authoritarian.

I very much agree.

quote:
I'd go further and say that those who are complaining of authoritarianism are those who were in a privileged position and are objecting to other people they don't like getting rights that they feel only they should have.
That has been my experience.

quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
The problem with the USA in C19 was not with the freedoms it permitted to people but rather that those freedoms were denied to people of a particular of a race. That is not illiberal at all.

How do you figure that? Denying civil rights seems to be a pretty darned good criterion for illiberality.

quote:
However if I were to ask a racist to bake me a cake and write the message 'all races are equal' on it and they refused and the law were to require to them to do it that would be illiberal. It may or may not be the right thing to do but it is not 'liberal' because the state has ceased to be neutral with regard to competing views. That goes beyond merely guaranteeing freedoms.
If the "competing views" are "all people should have equal rights" and "some people should have more rights than others," then it is illiberal to be NEUTRAL.

quote:
The prominent gay rights campaigner recognised that this case set a dangerous precedent for undermining freedom of expression and I'm sure that he does not share your view that protecting freedom of expression in that case would have undermined civil rights generally.
That's my view? Where did I say that?

quote:
It seems to me that if the state were to say to a group of people you are not allowed to prevent this other group of people from voting, the state is neutral.
Then you are not using "neutral" in any way I am familiar with.

quote:
Indeed voting is an interesting example to consider as I have heard far more frequently in recent years from radicals questioning whether or not people without degrees are qualified to vote on certain matters.
I have never heard any such thing. Where do you get this from? I have heard people like Karl Rove, who has a great deal of power with our government, saying that people who don't own property should not be allowed to vote.

quote:
On the one hand they say you ought to subscribe to no moral view at all
Who said this? It contradicts most of what you've said about lefties.

quote:
I'm not particularly coming from a right wing perspective by the way.
You most obviously are.

quote:
That is one reason why promiscuity has become more popular.
I think it has a lot more to do with birth control, decline of moralizing churches, and how much fun sex is. Dangerous combination if you want to avoid promiscuity. The idea that Lefties made trump promiscuous is beneath derision. Powerful men have always been skirt-chasers, long centuries before your fifty years of liberal postmodernism.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
I'm not aware of a post modern thinker who explicitly makes the argument. Indeed if they were to make the argument they would explicitly be endorsing a meta narrative. The problem is that if Charles Taylor is correct that meta narratives are unavoidable then the result of squeezing out meta narratives in the private sphere will inevitably lead to an overbearing government imposing its own meta narrative.

I think Taylor counts as a postmodern thinker myself - a postmodern leftwing thinker even. (What is meant by postmodernism is of course open to debate. Proclaiming an end to metanarratives is as has been frequently noted itself a metanarrative.)
I think Taylor is quite right that metanarratives are unavoidable. You seem to think that somehow if you let metanarratives flourish in the private sphere the government won't need one of its own. But I think that's untrue: if metanarratives are unavoidable then the government isn't going to be a metanarrative-free space whatever you do. The challenge then is to pick a worldview for the government that as many citizens as possible can welcome and all can live with.
It also means that citizens who have worldviews that mean they are unwilling to live with other citizens cannot expect those worldviews to get the same respect as more easy-going worldviews do.

[ 06. August 2017, 22:51: Message edited by: Dafyd ]

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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RuthW

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quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
It seems to me that what post modernists see as the alternative to a meta narrative is immediate, unconditioned subjectivity.

I'm still trying to get a handle on who/what you're talking about. Which post-modern thinkers do you have in mind?
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Makepiece
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# 10454

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
[QUOTE]



[QUOTE]Originally posted by Makepiece:
[qb]The problem with the USA in C19 was not with the freedoms it permitted to people but rather that those freedoms were denied to people of a particular of a race. That is not illiberal at all.

Mousethief: How do you figure that? Denying civil rights seems to be a pretty darned good criterion for illiberality.


Makepiece: You've missed out the first part of that quote wich stated that liberal governments ought to promote civil rights. What I meant is that it is not illiberal to have civil rights. Of course it illiberal to deny certain people those rights. Surely that was explicit in my comment that 'the problem with the USA in C19...'

Nonetheless I can see how you could misread what I'd said as that part is clumsily written.

[ 07. August 2017, 18:07: Message edited by: Makepiece ]

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Makepiece
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# 10454

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
I'm not aware of a post modern thinker who explicitly makes the argument. Indeed if they were to make the argument they would explicitly be endorsing a meta narrative. The problem is that if Charles Taylor is correct that meta narratives are unavoidable then the result of squeezing out meta narratives in the private sphere will inevitably lead to an overbearing government imposing its own meta narrative.

I think Taylor counts as a postmodern thinker myself - a postmodern leftwing thinker even. (What is meant by postmodernism is of course open to debate. Proclaiming an end to metanarratives is as has been frequently noted itself a metanarrative.)
I think Taylor is quite right that metanarratives are unavoidable. You seem to think that somehow if you let metanarratives flourish in the private sphere the government won't need one of its own. But I think that's untrue: if metanarratives are unavoidable then the government isn't going to be a metanarrative-free space whatever you do. The challenge then is to pick a worldview for the government that as many citizens as possible can welcome and all can live with.
It also means that citizens who have worldviews that mean they are unwilling to live with other citizens cannot expect those worldviews to get the same respect as more easy-going worldviews do.

I am not saying that allowing metanarratives to flourish in the private sphere will mean that government needs one of its own. I'm saying that this is the classic 'liberal' theory. It seems to me that a 'liberal' would say that the government cannot have a meta narrative at the public level precisely because a meta narrative is unavoidable at the private level. I'm not saying that the unavoidability of meta narratives precludes a thick conceptions at the public level but it does seem to me to highlight the absurdity of requiring thin conceptions at the private levels. Now then, how would a liberal respond to your view that if meta narratives are unavodable at the private level they are unavoidable at the public level? Surely the answer lies in the way that liberals have developed the distinction between the public and private spheres. A liberal would say that the promotion of thick conceptions in the public sphere leads to the oppression of thick conceptions in the private sphere. As such only thin conceptions are permissible in the public sphere (to a liberal) precisely it is the best way to ensure that a diverse range of thick conceptions can coexist in the private sphere. It is no coinceidence that liberalism arose during a time of conflict between Catholics and Protestants, Anglicans and nonconformists. All groups could agree to a government which was neutral regarding the varying religious conceptions but wwhich allowed them to express those beliefs privately (independently of the government). As such it seems to me that for your view to succeed you would need to show that the distinction between the public and private spheres propounded by liberals is unjustified. You might well be able to do so but I think it is fair to say that your view is not liberal isn't it?

[ 07. August 2017, 18:32: Message edited by: Makepiece ]

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Makepiece
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quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:
quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
It seems to me that what post modernists see as the alternative to a meta narrative is immediate, unconditioned subjectivity.

I'm still trying to get a handle on who/what you're talking about. Which post-modern thinkers do you have in mind?
I have Nietzche in mind- particularly as interpreted by Foucault. It seems to me that their conception of the 'will to power' leads to a stifling/suspicion respectively of meta narratives. Meta narratives are no longer viewed as humble attempts to discern the truth, as Kant or even Hegel might have put it, but are rather arrogant attempts to control others. But what is the alternative to a meta narrative? It seems to me that the only alternative is unconditined subjectivity. The only way to avoid 'power' influences for such post modernists it seems to me, is to reduce a human being to a supposed original state of perceiving that is independent of any external influence.

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
I think Taylor is quite right that metanarratives are unavoidable. You seem to think that somehow if you let metanarratives flourish in the private sphere the government won't need one of its own.

I am not saying that allowing metanarratives to flourish in the private sphere will mean that government needs one of its own. I'm saying that this is the classic 'liberal' theory. It seems to me that a 'liberal' would say that the government cannot have a meta narrative at the public level precisely because a meta narrative is unavoidable at the private level. I'm not saying that the unavoidability of meta narratives precludes a thick conceptions at the public level but it does seem to me to highlight the absurdity of requiring thin conceptions at the private levels. Now then, how would a liberal respond to your view that if meta narratives are unavodable at the private level they are unavoidable at the public level?
I don't think it's either the narrative or the meta- that are the features you're talking about. The classical liberal contrast is between a value-laden worldview with substantive conception of the good, and a value-neutral procedural conception based upon rights on the other. The classical liberal thought is that the government must be value neutral without any conception of the good.

Charles Taylor's point is that the classical liberal thought is itself based on a substantive conception of the good and is therefore not itself value-neutral. It involves a preference for autonomy and free choice over conformity, for example. Taylor's further point is that a value-neutral conception is impossible: the reasons for thinking it is impossible at a private level do not depend on anything unique to the private level. (The history and development of liberalism is irrelevant here.)
Now I think it is true that if it's inevitable that the public sphere operate according to one or other worldview then liberalism is better than most since it involves the least imposition upon people with other worldviews. But you can't defend it as being entirely value-neutral.

quote:
A liberal would say that the promotion of thick conceptions in the public sphere leads to the oppression of thick conceptions in the private sphere. As such only thin conceptions are permissible in the public sphere (to a liberal) precisely it is the best way to ensure that a diverse range of thick conceptions can coexist in the private sphere.
You keep using those words ('thin' and 'thick'). I do not think they mean what I think you think they mean.

In particular, I don't think 'postmodernism' as you call it at a public level requires thin conceptions at private levels. If you're thinking of what I think you're thinking of I don't think 'thin conception' is at all the contrast that you're wanting to talk about.

quote:
As such it seems to me that for your view to succeed you would need to show that the distinction between the public and private spheres propounded by liberals is unjustified. You might well be able to do so but I think it is fair to say that your view is not liberal isn't it?
I'd certainly describe myself as a liberal under many meanings of the term. Just as Charles Taylor is a liberal. We just don't think that the standard classical account of liberalism is defensible.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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mousethief

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What political party does Nietzsche lead? Wait don't answer. His belief in the Übermensch and the right of the strong to rule it over the weak was adopted almost unchanged by Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand is the de facto god of the U.S. Republican Party. Nothing to do with liberals or liberalism.

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Makepiece
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# 10454

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
What political party does Nietzsche lead? Wait don't answer. His belief in the Übermensch and the right of the strong to rule it over the weak was adopted almost unchanged by Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand is the de facto god of the U.S. Republican Party. Nothing to do with liberals or liberalism.

Precisely.

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Makepiece
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Dafyd,

I can't do the clever 'quote' thing that you do on here and so I'll address your main point. I am taking meta narratives to be the ultimate thick conception of the good. The one thing that is non-negotiable to a person. I mean this in the Rawlsian sense that people will have particular life goals that they wish to pursue. Of course owning a nice car may also be a thick conception but it is not as compelling as a meta narrative as such the latter tend to be at the heart of liberal theory. Now of course I take the point that Rawls' Theory of Justice could in itself be described as a meta narrative but it is clearly a liberal meta narrative in that it affirms meta narratives in the private sphere. It seems to me that post modernists, at least in the Nietzchean sense that I am talking about, are illiberal precisely because they wish to suppress meta narratives (i.e. the ultimate thick conception) in the private sphere.

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Martin60
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# 368

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Well there we are then.

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Posts: 17009 | From: Never Dobunni after all. Corieltauvi after all. Just moved to the capital. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Cod
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# 2643

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Do any post modernists actually identify as being on the left?

If not, I fail to see that makes them specifically left-wing, or for that matter, right wing

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Makepiece:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
What political party does Nietzsche lead? Wait don't answer. His belief in the Übermensch and the right of the strong to rule it over the weak was adopted almost unchanged by Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand is the de facto god of the U.S. Republican Party. Nothing to do with liberals or liberalism.

Precisely.
So you admit that postmodernism is essentially illiberal and right-wing. Good has been done here.

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“Religion doesn't fuck up people, people fuck up religion.”—lilBuddha

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Martin60
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# 368

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Once upon a time ...

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Love wins

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