The ‘End of Modernity’?

  • Roland Bleiker


Proclaiming the end of things is a common rhetorical practice in the study of world politics. We have heard about the end of the Cold War, the end of the Westphalian state system, even the end of history. Some also believe that the all-encompassing historical period called modernity has given way to something else, a postmodernity, perhaps. In the latter case, though, the necrologists are often not those to whom this endism is usually ascribed. From a so-called postmodern perspective, the important task is not to hail the arrival of a new historical epoque but, rather, to search for ways through which we can understand and live modernity in more inclusive and dialogical ways. David Campbell, Michel Foucault, Paul de Man and Jean-François Lyotard are examples of presumably postmodern authors who remind us that modernity is already such an elusive phenomenon that the concept of postmodernity becomes nothing but a parody of the phantom it seeks to distance itself from. Indeed, the very idea of classifying historical periods can be seen as an obsession with ordering and controlling that is typically modern (Campbell, 1998b, pp. 212–13; Foucault, 1984a, pp. 248–9; de Man, 1986, p. 120; Lyotard, 1991, pp. 24–35).


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© Roland Bleiker 2000

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  • Roland Bleiker

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