Edward Herman

An important element of the intellectual trend called “postmodernism” is the repudiation of global models of social analysis and global solutions, and their replacement with a focus on local and group differences and the ways in which ordinary individuals adapt to and help reshape their environments. Its proponents often present themselves as populists, hostile to the elitism of modernists, who, on the basis of “essentialist” and “totalizing” theories, suggest that ordinary people are being manipulated and victimized on an unlevel playing field. […] In an academic context, the focus on individual responses and micro-issues of language, text interpretation, and ethnic and gender identity is politically safe and holds forth the possibility of endless deconstructions of small points in a growing framework of technical jargon. The process has been a long-standing one in economics, where mathematics opened up wonderful opportunities for building complex gothic structures on the foundation of very unrealistic assumptions. These models have slight application to reality, but conveniently tend to reaffirm the marvels of the free market, given their simple assumptions of perfect competition, etc. […] It is good to see that the active audience intellectuals are as useful in serving the cause of the “free flow” of information as the mainstream economists are in helping along “free trade.”

Edward Herman, ‘Postmodernism Triumphs’, Z Magazine, January 1996