Re: the arrogance of postmodern mumbo jumbo

CU Student (
Wed, 02 Oct 1996 22:19:16 -0600

In article <52dr29$>, Beth Williams) wrote:

> In <>
> (Len Piotrowski) writes:
> >
> >In article <empty-2409960709400001@>
> (CU Student) writes:
> >
> >>[snipped stuff about "the AMERICAN wild embrace of PM" and "the fall
> of
> >Communism"!?!]
> >
> >Where'd this guy come from? (Probably a Baldwin Effect, eh?)
> I'd like to understand how one thus explains the high incidence of
> PP/PM academics from British institutions (Hodder, Schiffer, Shanks,
> etc.?)
> MB Williams
> Dept. of Anthro, UMass-Amherst

Just a little perspective from across the pond: in a (London) TLS article,
say Spring of '93 (just as a friend was doing the U.S. tenure track job
hunt -- I sent him a copy, saying it could be worse -- "you could be in
lit. instead of History!"), the author reported on the MLA convention and
the dreariness of PM -- something, the author, a UK English lit academic,
stated was a fashion mostly absent from the emerald island. Somehow common
sense has held on more
strongly there. (The palisades of falsificationism? Perhaps: Popper still sells
popularly over there, as do his allies llike E. M. Gombrich, and Ernest

Which raises the question: if PM first (and foremostly) came to the
English speaking world via the U.S. -- not England -- what sociologically
U.S. academy from its British counterparts?

Speculation: the reexamination of the welfare state came earlier (Thatcher),
and more vigorously than in the U. S. Percentage of GDP devoted to
still rose in the U.K. thru the '80s -- but less so than in the U.S.
(i.e., the reinvigoratede "defense" buildup in the U.S.) -- could the latter
simply have inflammed the exponents of adversarial culture here? --
i.e., the notion that the the U.S. or the West or "Reason" is ethically
immoral, or otherwise inferior to other cultures\. Tor the U. S. , the real
re-examination of the wlefare state has come after the Fall of Communism,
not before, as in the UK -- i.e., after '92 and the REpublican REvolution
of Congress.
This event put much of modern jsutifications for Welfare statism on the
defensive, and PMs are just more retromingent voices of entitlement, just as
the late Mitch Snyder lobbied for the homeless by exaggerating their numbers
-- this is seen iin the neoconservative tilt of the verneralbe old-
line liberal <New Republic> magazine. Older "progressive" venues, such as
<The Village Voicer> have been reduced to giving it away -- a onetime
scurilous rag, <The AMaerican Spectator> now has circulation in the quarter
million range -- while another long lived voice for progressivism, <The
Nation> has circulation declining down to where resurgent magazines like the
libertarian <Liberty> have surpassed it in circulation numbers....

More to MB Williams point: even if there are -- as (s)he states, a "high
incidence" of British academic PM's -- they haven't turned the humaities,
inside or outside academe, on its proverbial ear.

-- Orson Olson, Univ. Of Colorado, Boulder