To the editor:
Welcome to the postmodern world. While much of society is still suffering PTSD following the election of Donald J Trump, it should come as no surprise since the warning signs have been with us for several years.
The march of mankind has been defined by various stages from the Stone Age to modernity. It is safe to say we now have evolved from the Age of Enlightenment and the rational individual into a period of Postmodernism. Gone are the naïve notions of universal truth, order and facts to guide individuals towards a shared understanding of reality.
Postmodernism is a theory of explaining cultural dynamics in an effort to comprehend the zeitgeist of the world we live in. The harbinger was the breakdown of the previous world order. For decades the centres of social authority have been gradually undermined. Doctors, lawyers, nurses, parents, law enforcement, media, politicians, teachers, clergy, et al. have all had their credibility questioned and usurped. Even the once revered Albert Einstein and his fellow scientists have been reduced to mass mockery.
Chaos has emerged from this vacuum, whereby knowledge is a social construct and claims of truth are mere political power plays. Words no longer have meaning that bind us, but become defined by the individuals that hear them, who empower them with their own meaning. In short, postmodern theory sees reality as what individuals, or social groups make it to be. Hence the death of objective reality and the grand narrative. It has become the conundrum of our times that two people can observe the same thing and draw completely different conclusions. Critical thinkers vs emotional reasoners.
The theory gains credence when examining the recent US presidential election. Candidate Trump was the establishment outsider. Each outrageous claim, put down, obscenity and conspiracy was cheered by supporters. The “basket of deplorables” and silent majority found a loud champion to batter the elites. It didn’t matter if they believed him, or not. Shocking as the pronouncements were to establishment ears, they offered the mana of hope and change to half the population. Their main goal was to discredit, tear down and replace the power structure by whatever means.
This cultural chasm shows no signs of abating. Will society care about “truthiness” and “fake news?” Is the Trump train merely passing through, or are more passengers jumping aboard for the long haul? Either way, the Postmodern ride is going to be crazy and challenging. But it certainly will not be boring.
Gunnar Forsstrom, Kelowna