What Happened On the Way to Postmodern? Part Ii1

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All postmodern roads lead to Nietzsche. This essay explores his eternal recurrence theory as a way to answer the questions, whatever happened to postmodern, and why are so many moderns still arriving? I am a storyteller so I will make this an epic story, not one of those tidy coherent linear narratives that plot history with beginning, middle, and end. Eternal recurrence is cyclical, not linear.... (see full summary)



Pre-story of the History of the Future


Modernisms seem to stand victorious in the foreground, with not a postmodern philosopher in sight. Modern philosophers keep promising progress through the empiricism, positivism, rationality, and mechanisicity or organicity of science, technology, in the Empire's unholy marriage of state and global corporation. Yet the consequence of all this is the catastrophe of nihilism. Nihilism is defined by Nietzsche as "radical repudiation of value, meaning and desirability" (Nietzsche, 1968, sec. 1, p. 7).


The supposed dialectic of moderns and postmoderns is what Nietzsche calls "perspectivism," a will to power striving to master space and time; This "will to power can manifest itself only against resistances; therefore it seeks that which resists" by dividing into two wills: "appropriation and assimilation" (Nietzsche, 1968, sec. 636, p. 340). The good news is that out of the resistance to global Empire, a worldwide peace movement is being born. Empire is moving toward catastrophe, to its self-destruction. This Empire is what I call the dark side of postmodern. The catastrophe of Empire's postmodern wars, its global imperialism, is simultaneous to its resistance which spawns the birth of the worldwide peace movement.


Eternal recurrence is the idea that "everything becomes and recurs eternally-escape is impossible!" (Nietzsche, 1968, sec. 1958, p. 545). The linear narrative, the mechanistic cause-effect, the organic budding will not be reconciled with eternal recurrence. The narrators read a progressive path to goal into every string of linearly ordered events. I seek to revive Aristotle's more epic story. Empire will succumb to catastrophe to the decline of U.S. global hegemony, only to be cast up again. As Nietzsche put it, "My consolidation is that everything that has been is eternal: the sea will cast it up again" (Nietzsche, 1968, sec. 1065, p. 548). Napoleon, Hitler, and Bush; the fascist leaders are cast up again to fulfill the desire of the masses. Of all the world hypotheses (Nietzsche, 1968, sec. 1066, p. 549) the organic and the mechanistic (plus Pepper's 1942 contextualism and formism) have all been refuted, but keep reappearing. So why should we not expect postmodern philosophies to recur? I will lay out the linear episodic succession narrative in Table 1, though it too has been refuted.

I do not buy the linear episodic narrative of pre to mod to postmodern archaeology in Table 1. I agree with Nietzsche's eternal recurrence. Despots and fascists keep recurring, and postmodern wars are endless (Gulf War I with Bush, Sr., and Gulf War II with Bush, Jr.). There is no end to war on drugs, war on crime, and war on the Axis of Evil.


To Nietzsche, his Dionysian chaos world is "a monster of energy, without beginning, without end," and boundaries between perspectives are blurry, "a sea of forces flowing and rushing together, eternally changing, eternally flooding back, with tremendous years of recurrence" (Nietzsche, 1968, sec. 1067, p. 550). It is self-creating and self-destroying that is " 'beyond good an evil' without goal, unless the joy of the circle is itself a goal. . . . This world is the will to power-and nothing besides!" (Nietzsche, 1968, sec. 1967, p. 550). Empire is not bringing about some fundamentalist moral fulfillment of God's plan on earth; it is just will to power.


It is said that we need a post-postmodern philosophy since the postmodern philosophies have been vanquished by the resurgence of the moderns. Silliness. What happened on the way to postmodern? An eternal recurrence in the monster of energy forces of will to power reasserted nihilism, the dominion of Empire, while the many postmoderns self-deconstructed by engaging in hyper-incommensurability until they self-destroyed; their corpses assimilated and appropriated by the mighty and noble moderns. All that is left is the dark side of postmodern dreams. There is also a fair amount of pomophobia: idiots caricature postmodernists as Nazis, as relativists, as monsters. Young scholars are warned against it, "you will never be taken seriously; you will be laughed at." A Ph.D. seeking a job quickly said "hello" to me at an Academy meeting, then begged off, saying "I cannot be seen with Boje; I will never get a job if I am seen with you."


Is it time to make a mummy out of the postmoderns? Should we buy Fukuyama's (1992) end of history? Not I! Was the postmodern movement a fiction of our collective imagination? Not to me! The gravediggers are assembled here to bury postmodern philosophies. Yet I do remember leading marches and vigils against the wars of Empire, and getting arrested, handcuffed and leg-shackled by university police. Resistance to nihilism is still active; more people are joining the vigils. Despite the theoretical nihilism of the cacophony of postmodernisms; despite what Latour (1994) calls their "hyperincommensurability" there is a burgeoning worldwide resistance to Empire.


There are many signs of decline and decadence of Empire. Radical nihilism is not the corruption of Enron, Andersen, or WorldCom. The Biotech century of cloning and terminator seeds is not the cause of radical nihilism. The depleted uranium of Gulf Wars I and II is not it. I think it is the lies. Bush's recent postmodern war is an example of cooking up a story of weapons of mass destruction, then sending in troops to be slaughtered. Bush told history's all-time whopper; that it is not the U.S. that makes or uses Weapons of Mass Destruction, but some desert nation. The dark side of postmodern announces itself in a hundred tellings; yet the epic story is distorted in the repeated retellings. One telling, Empire, by Hardt & Negri (2000), is an example of (late) modernism appropriating and assimilating postmodern theory, in order to articulate a supposed utopian post-postmodern position.


I write the postmodern gospel of the future! (Nietzsche, 1968, sec. 3, p. 3). The dark side of postmodern has found its expression, appropriated and assimilated by Empire. The positive necessary consequence is the birth of the worldwide peace party. Empire promises progress on a global scale, yet behind the façade one sees predatory capitalism's oppression; nothing more than the pain and suffering of Social Darwinism.


Evangelical capitalism purports to be God's will for a new global order called Empire. This fundamentalist faith in global capitalism is misplaced. Bush's call...

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