The left are that trill. Whether in the networks, in events such as the Wisdom and Knowledge Congress, held recently in Córdoba, or in the media, a new concept seems to have captured public opinion generating all kinds of visceral reactions, both for and against: I mean postmodern or posmo, and its successful association with the problem of identities. On the one hand, their champions are often accused of taking offense too easily by issues related to feminism, anti-racism or environmentalism that, supposedly, would undermine the defense of social rights and a conquest of a better material life; that is (very succinctly), the left posmo class claims would be charged. On the other hand, those who align themselves with the postmodern advocate denouncing the abuses committed against marginalized populations and, often, reject nostalgia as this, in their opinion, is a tool of political demobilization. In the jumble of arguments, it refers to the identity battles that are taking place in the United States while using data taken out of context that does not illustrate the complex reality of the North American country. In the end, conflict often replaces dialogue and misinformation runs its course in the form of a snowball. Let’s go by parts.
Postmodernity, as the historical period in which we are all immersed, is not chosen. There is a great academic consensus on this and, if the increasingly entrenched anti-intellectualism will allow me, accuse someone of “Posmo” It is something like using the term “Visigothic” or “Renaissance” as an insult: an absurdity. We are postmodern insofar as we inhabit a time characterized by a great multiplicity of stories that give us meaning, a trend that has been confirmed since at least the 1960s, although it was theorized years later by thinkers such as Jean-François Lyotard. Instead of clinging to the few emancipatory discourses of yesteryear (religion or Marxism), they coexist with causes that range from the fight against gender violence or climate change, to the defense of LGBTQ rights through those of the collective immigrant, because from this historical turn, precisely, there is a greater attention to the victims, which has meant not a few advances in the lives of many people.
The phenomenon, of course, is not new and owes much to the historical memory that emerged after a barbarism such as the Holocaust that, at first, served to instigate fundamental legal texts such as the Declaration of Human Rights and, later, gave rise to very productive ramifications such as our own memory of the Civil War, understood from organized political action beyond individual memory. If we were not postmodern, our questioning of warfare would be much lighter; Moreover, we would surely take the majority side of the winners and assume their achievements as our own, since the postulates of the nation-state would prevail over human dignity. A writer like Svetlana Alexievich, who recounted the utter desolation of Soviet citizens in the face of the Afghanistan War or the extreme pain caused by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, is profoundly postmodern, as she puts the suffering of anyone before the institutional corpus created, in many cases , to hide it.
At the same time, the attention to the victims, the remembrance of their circumstances, as well as the uncertainty caused by a future that is faltering for many reasons, among which are the resounding failure of socialist projects such as the former Soviet Union but also, Increasingly, the ruins that neoliberalism has brought us, with its constant threat to welfare states and a concatenation of crises that has unleashed a precariousness that is difficult to tolerate, make nostalgia to surface. The world that seems to have collapsed before our eyes, without guarantees or certainties of any kind, incites us to think that any time in the past was better, mediating the danger of uncritically mythologizing previous periods, but also that the detractors of nostalgia obliterate the The political potential it represents if it is used to rescue elements that could be used in progressive agendas, since it all depends on how that nostalgia is managed and not necessarily on whether it exists —which is inevitable—.
You only have to reflect a little to realize that it is a period feature that runs through the entire political spectrum; It is not by chance that both the Republican slogan (Make America great again) like the democrat (Build back better) in the last US elections they were regressive, although they were mobilized according to dissimilar programs that, yes, will affect the coming years. Thus, the memory of the lost does not constitute per se a reactionary act. Continuing with the United States, it is remarkable that the black collective massively organized against Trump, who was asked, incisively, if that great America of yesteryear would not be that of slavery or the Jim Crow laws, while showing their affinity with the proposals Democrats, who also ooze echoes of an industrial past, but promise an improvement in living conditions.
And here it is necessary to clarify how identities operate in a culture – the Yankee – where it is essential to attend to people who are systematically discriminated against, if not massacred, often at the hands of the police. When the black population has a lower life expectancy than the white population, it fills private prisons with which specific companies profit, and racism is the main cause that there is not, for example, a public health system that covers everyone, can it be to separate the identity of the different claims of rights? If the exclusion of so many is so bloody, and this is due to the color of the skin, can we allow ourselves to criticize the diversity? And, if maternal mortality in black women is extremely high and even a wealthy athlete like Serena Williams was about to die after giving birth, can abuses of such caliber be explained only by alluding to social class, which does not cease to be by the way, yet another tale on the postmodern grill available?
Without omitting the fact that there is a correlation between race and purchasing power, the cultural battle that is taking place in the United States and many quote lightly is also a battle in its literal sense, where there are bodies at stake whose identity is inseparable from his vulnerability — see George Floyd. The so-called cancellation that is erected as a censorship injustice crystallizes, especially, against the weakest, who continue to fight for rights as basic as the vote, very restricted to minorities. Imperfect translations into Spanish settings not only delegitimize these struggles, but also cloud an understanding of the social improvements we need. The dismissal of posmo, The kingdom where these problems converge and are related, in addition to being absurd, is counterproductive, since it prevents us from being now, as I write, forging alliances between those of us who do not pursue more than social justice that, precisely because the great stories have lost their hegemonic position, it requires a network of collaborations that, while respecting differences, leads us to a successful conclusion. I am posmo, you too, how about assuming it and getting down to work.
Azahara Palomeque She is a writer and PhD in Cultural Studies from Princeton University. His latest book is Year 9. Catastrophic Chronicles in the Trump Era.