Twitter, texts, email the psychological needs driving todays vast and risky digital writing experiment
The notoriety of postmodernism has waxed and waned over the past 40 years. While a frequent reference point in the cultural criticism of the 1990s, the term was falling out of use during the first decade of the 21st century. Today, however, in the context of Brexit, Donald Trump, re-energised identity politics and the chaos of social media, it has reappeared as a diagnostic category for rationalists seeking to understand what ails the west.
For intellectuals such as Steven Pinker and a cluster of neoconservatives associated with the online magazine Quillette, the postmodern left has injected relativism and self-pity into liberal democracies, with all of the results we see around us today. Few appear to have any clue what postmodernism ever referred to, nor any desire to find out. As Richard Seymour writes in one typically excoriating aside, their postmodernism is a straw figure, the bogey-scapegoat of anglophone centrists losing an argument.