Postmodernism in the Twenty-First Century: Jordan Peterson, Jean Baudrillard and the Problem of Chaos
After a highpoint in the late 1980s and 1990s, postmodern thought seems to have run its course. The controversial debates within Marxism have dissipated, and the influence of postmodern theory has faded. However, in the popular imagination, postmodernism is undergoing a revival of sorts. The term once signalled the collapse of hitherto fixed social and aesthetic categories and the problems and ontological possibilities this collapse opens up. With the deepening of the New Right, it now reductively stands in for dogmatic relativism, or, in other words, for the notion that individuals can thumb their noses at what is evident, choose their reality and be dogmatic or even militant about it. If we follow popular pundits such as Jordan Peterson, who is at the forefront of this reduction, postmodern dogmatism is currently causing a current crisis in (white, North American) social and moral values. The chapter considers how this revival of postmodernism works in the current conjuncture in the global North and consists of three overlapping components. The first provides a brief outline of the use of postmodernism as the figure of the irrational and dogmatic other. The second unpacks Jordan Peterson’s extreme conservative thought. And the third considers what happens to Peterson’s thought when it encounters an actual, so-called postmodernist, Jean Baudrillard. I turn to Baudrillard because he shares a set of overlapping concerns with Peterson, but takes these concerns in entirely different directions.
KeywordsPostmodernism Baudrillard Jordan Peterson Jung The New Right
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