I’ve gotten a few random emails about POSTMODERN CONSERVATISM either being an oxymoron or some bad joke.  Well, it can be that, I guess.  No doubt some believe that postmodern conservatism is conservatism gone stylish, contemporary, young, beautiful, metrosexual, pop cultural, and Obamacon.  But that understanding doesn’t really make much sense.  Even the word “postmodern” obviously isn’t cool anymore.  It sticks around only because post-postmodern is too dumb to come into its own.

I wrote a book called POSTMODERNISM RIGHTLY UNDERSTOOD about a decade go.  “Rightly” obviously means both correctly and conservatively in context.  Postmodern must mean what we can know after experiencing the modern world.  So postmodern must mean being free of modern illusions and appreciative of modern success.

That means that true POSTMODERNISM is not all about endless self-creation and the fantasy that everything human is socially constructed.  From the RIGHT postmodern view, what’s generally called postmodern is actually hypermodern, or the modern run amok.  True postmodernism is a return to REALISM, to the fact that we’re STUCK WITH VIRTUE, that the needs of the SOUL can be distorted but not deconstructed or destroyed.  But true postmodernism also has a properly limited appreciation of modern revelations.  Technological success is real and a generally beneficial revelation of some of the truth about human freedom.  Not only that, the modern affirmation of the free individual is a distortion—but not a destruction—of the true Christian revelation that the human PERSON has an identity as a whole being—or is not merely a PART of nature or his or her country.  One huge modern failure is not to see that the person is also necessarily RELATIONAL, that the free being with LOGOS also is shaped by personal EROS.  So the modern effort was less to discover our responsibilities as beings who love and die than to extinguish those allegedly alienating experiences.

Articles by Peter Lawler

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