If you have worked and studied in English speaking universities over the past 30 years in the humanities, I suspect you will have encountered the mind-numbing drivel that characterizes much of Postmodernist writing. One of its worst excesses was an attack on the natural sciences, exposed in all its ignorance by Alan Sokal and the now famous Sokal affair, and in more detail by Sokal and Bricmont in Intellectual Impostures: Postmodern Philosophers’ Abuse of Science (London, 1998).
I will never forget the time I once wasted trying to understand Derrida, and my conclusion that Derrida’s writings are some of the worst rubbish I have ever read.
Frankly, I don’t think it is difficult to find support for this view. Noam Chomsky, probably the most well known libertarian socialist today, gives his view of Postmodernism:
“Some of the people in these cults (which is what they look like to me) I’ve met: Foucault (we even have a several-hour discussion, which is in print, and spent quite a few hours in very pleasant conversation, on real issues, and using language that was perfectly comprehensible—he speaking French, me English); Lacan (who I met several times and considered an amusing and perfectly self-conscious charlatan, though his earlier work, pre-cult, was sensible and I've discussed it in print); Kristeva (who I met only briefly during the period when she was a fervent Maoist); and others. Many of them I haven’t met, because I am very remote from these circles, by choice, preferring quite different and far broader ones—the kinds where I give talks, have interviews, take part in activities, write dozens of long letters every week, etc. I’ve dipped into what they write out of curiosity, but not very far, for reasons already mentioned: what I find is extremely pretentious, but on examination, a lot of it is simply illiterate, based on extraordinary misreading of texts that I know well (sometimes, that I have written), argument that is appalling in its casual lack of elementary self-criticism, lots of statements that are trivial (though dressed up in complicated verbiage) or false; and a good deal of plain gibberish”As on so many other things, Chomsky is dead right on this subject (and his description of Lacan as “an amusing and perfectly self-conscious charlatan” is priceless!). Nor is he alone, as there is an equally stinging attack on Postmodernism from the philosopher John Searle, which is worth reading.
Noam Chomsky on Post-Modernism.
The major historical issue for the left was, and still should be, economics. I certainly don’t deny the importance of social, cultural and other moral issues, but economics is the burning issue of our time.
Dawkins, R. “Postmodernism Disrobed,” RichardDawkins.net, 1 April 2007
Gross, P. R. and N. Levitt, 1994. Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
Postrel, S. R. and E. Feser, “Reality Principles: An Interview with John R. Searle,” Reason.com (9 February 2000)
Sokal, A. and J. Bricmont. 1998. Intellectual Impostures: Postmodern Philosophers’ Abuse of Science, Profile, London.