Power as the Object of a Representation or (Why Postmodernism Will End With a World Already Past)

Power as the Object of a Representation or (Why Postmodernism Will End With a World Already Past)

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: “I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.” For better or worse, those days are now gone.

The most imperative unarticulated presupposition of Western culture has been the free and unified subject, sustained by the theological illusion as the guarantor of its intrinsic value, as articulated by Descartes. It was by making use of the grammatical postulate of the indivisible Cogito as the metaphysical underpinning of civilization that the governing rationality of our judicial, financial and political order could emerge. However, the implicit representational logic steadfastly administrating the societal machines has mostly been left unthought and our collective unconscious has therefore managed to effectively reduce differences in a sacrificial process of deathly repetitions, which has organized and nailed down each human body of the socious as a subject of one.

The accelerating level of productiveness has been astonishing all throughout this grammatical paradigm, despite the wars and cults of death it predictibly produced, primarily to the satisfaction of the elect — the main beneficiaries of the current set of folds. Everything has seemed possible and although postmodern theories has challenged the state of affairs, the Cogito has prevailed. Until now.

The digital high speed communicative nature of the Internet has fractured the slow moving Cogito and transitioned us from capitalist individuals towards informationalist dividuals capable of operating at different speeds simultaneously. Rather than being nailed downed as subjects of one motivated by what we lack and valued by our level of productiveness, we are now vast — we act as if we are containing multitudes. The rhizomatic Internet and its ability to increasingly multiply our participation in processes of subjectification has thus accomplished what many postmodern theoreticians so longed to do.

My claim is this: since Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God, the number of people who cognitively reject belief in God has gradually increased, but it was not until the inception of the Internet that we collectively began to function as if there is no God, and since God was the other worldly guarantor of the unarticulated presupposition of our culture, customary metaphors that make intersubjective truths possible are now loosing their ground too. So, why no celebrations? Why the heated epistemological debates about Fake News? Was this world without hegemonic narratives not what enlightened people conscious of social justice wanted? Apparently not, because when president Donald Trump displays to the world via his personal Twitter account that he is not accountable to anything or anyone grander than himself and his own perspective, they take to the streets. Similarly, the Russian ideologue Alexander Dugin receives little praise from his Western counterparts when he declares that everything is relative and that the Russians could use postmodernity in order to explain to the West that if any truth is relative, they have their special Russian truth.

This painfully exposes how postmodernism inherently depends on a grammatical foundation now gone, because when its most fierce proponents finally experienced themselves subdued by the abyss they affectionately spoke of for so long, they proved to be weak in spirit and consciously began reproducing the very aspects of modernism they most detested to regain some sense of stability and control. What has shifted is not primarily the postmodern ethos but the stability of the established values and metaphysical underpinnings it has aimed to deconstruct, and what remains for all to see in plain sight is the postmodern conception of power as the object of a representation. “It is too easy to be antifascist on the molar level,“ as Deleuze and Guattari writes, “and not even see the fascist inside you, the fascist you yourself sustain and nourish and cherish with molecules both personal and collective.” In truth, the postmodern claim to affirm differences has proved to follow the basic logic of Christendom and its secular offshoots — the aim is not differential affirmation but to construct a universal position beyond reality from where judgments can be delivered by a self appointed priesthood. The most vulgar example of this is perhaps puritanical, self-flagellating white people negating their own particularity in order to assume a pure and heavenly position as allies, but there are plenty of other intersectional analysts functioning in a similar fashion, celebrating victimhood as the value of values. Mark Seem writes in the introduction to Anti-Oedipus:

Christianity taught us to see the eye of the lord looking down upon us. Such forms of knowledge project an image of reality, at the expense of reality itself. They talk figures and icons and signs, but fail to perceive forces and flows. They bind us to other realities, and especially the reality of power as it subjugates us. Their function is to tame, and the result is the fabrication of docile and obedient subjects.

Unfortunately, the postmodern activism that presents itself today is no different: not in terms of its life denying root-tree logic and not in terms of its aim to fabricate docile and obidient subjects. What separates today’s collective postmodern expressions from Christendom is that the latter was a totalizing endevour while the former ultimately is parasitical to the foundation it aims to destroy, which is why it is so dangerous. It is also why these suicidal postmodern activists are incapable of producing a viable alternative to the structures they so desperately want to see go up in flames. They are trapped in the dream of the other and are therefore incapable of using their imaginative powers to create a world beyond the contours of the world they are reacting against. Make no mistake, this is not an apologia for past worlds of totalitarian rule, nor is it a dismissal of all postmodern philosophers — it is an argument that recognizes that the game has shifted, which implies that qualifying reactions against organizations of past paradigms has lost their social value, regardless of how therapeutic they may be at a personal level.

Deleuze and Guattari makes a good point in A Thousand Plateaus, saying that the worst that can happen is not to be organized, signified and subjected, but to throw the level of the strata into demented or suicidal collapse. The autodeconstructive force generated by the accelerating, mind bending technological advances of the past decades is now so strong that the old, crumbling institutions very well could collapse much too fast, before we have had the opportunity to construct new ones, which accentuates the danger of the childish impotence of nostalgic postmodern activism in a world that is no longer constructed upon the foundation it still aims to shatter. The rapid demise of the Swedish Academy, the guardians of the Swedish language, the keepers of grammar, could well serve as a prophetic image for other historical institutions, like nation states and universities. It is now easy to mindlessly break things out of resentment but without sufficient amounts of structural stability combined with bold eschatological visions, we will be completely dominated by the emerging digital elite, and in the face of this impending future postmodern activists clearly prefers complete annihilation, perhaps since universal extinction would fulfill their main criteria for Justice — complete equality of outcome.

Masochistic Mariology