A Marxist critique of Postmodernism

August 25, 2008

- Byron Clark

This article was originally published in the University of Canterbury student magazine Canta under the title
‘Minimum wage is an objective truth: How postmodernism hurts the working class’.

If you’re an Arts student then theres no doubt that you will have encountered the term ‘postmodernism’ at some point during your time at university, perhaps though you haven’t been given an explanation of this school of thought or perhaps more likely you’ve had it explained to you by ten different people- probably in twelve different ways. Its this confusion on what postmodernism actually is that makes any attempt at critiquing it so difficult. In the intellectual discussions that can be found outside campus cafés one arguing against postmodernism will soon hear from their opponent “no thats not what postmodernism is!” at which point the discussion becomes a frustrating argument about semantics usually ending with someone dismissively scoffing “bloody undergrads” and walking away. No doubt this article will draw similar responses, however I’m going to attempt to define postmodernism as accurately as I can, based on the impressions of it I have gained in the course of my university education, as well as though my own study, and then outline my criticism of it. Let me first state that if you’re inclined to use the word ‘postmodern’ to describe architecture (indeed this was the original use of the word), a piece of art, music or your latest haircut, then my argument is not with you. Refer to contemporary art however you like, and it doesn’t worry me, my argument here is against the philosophy of postmodernism, a collection of ideas that I see as having negative consequences in our society.

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