Jordan Peterson was right about "Postmodern Neo-Marxism"
How Postmodern Philosophy and Neo-Marxism were fused in the creation of Critical Social Justice/wokeness
When Jordan Peterson first began using the term “Postmodern Neo-Marxist” to refer to social justice activists a number of academics, intellectuals, and influencers claimed that Dr. Peterson’s coinage of the term was totally misguided. They claimed that Dr. Peterson was confused about Marxism, postmodernism, and Social Justice. These critics claim there can be no such thing as “Postmodern Neo-Marxism” because postmodern philosophy has at it’s core a set of ideas and tenets that directly contradict the central ideas and tenets of Marxism. Marxism and postmodernism are, on this view, like water and oil: they just don’t mix.
But I think Dr. Peterson is correct.
I believe Social Justice activists have in fact built their moral, political, and ideological system (you might say their worldview) on a foundation that does in fact mix a variant of Neo-Marxism and postmodernism. The problem is (as Dr. Peterson remarked to me in Calgary a few months ago) that the connection between Marxism and postmodernism is not well understood, and this makes it very difficult for people to understand how ideas from two quite different philosophies (Marxism and postmodernism) could be fused into a single worldview.
So, taking up Dr. Peterson’s point, I am going to explain the connection between Marxism, Neo-Marxism, and postmodernism and why this is relevant to what we now call “wokeness.” My contention is that activist scholars looking for theories to advance their advocacy and activism picked up a variant of Neo-Marxism that they then fused with a well developed from of postmodernism; and I think the worldview underlying the social justice politics and advocacy that we typically call “wokeness” is the result of this fusion.
This is a large topic, so I am going to do this in two parts. This first essay will explain that theoretical changes were made to Marxism as it developed into Neo-Marxism and how these changes made it possible to fuse Neo-Marxism with postmodern philosophy. The second essay will be an essay showing how this fusion was actually accomplished as ideas pulled from Neo-Marxist theories and postmodern philosophy were used to forge the Critical Social Justice Worldview (AKA “woke”)
Getting Clear about the objection.
Let’s begin by getting clear about exactly how the objection works.
1. Stating the objection clearly
The heart of the objection to the thesis that Critical Social Justice (AKA “woke”) has fused Neo-Marxism with postmodernism rests on the idea that the core claims of Marxism are fundamentally opposed to the central claims of postmodernism. In order to get clear about how the objection works so we can show why it doesn’t cut any ice let’s lay out the whole objection in a more detailed way.
The objection goes something like this:
According to Marxism Western capitalist democracies are fundamentally unjust and oppressive. Capitalism is an oppressive system in which the wealth capital owning classes are able to exploit workers in order to get wealthy at their expense. Capitalism, by its very nature, creates an oppressor class which has all the wealth and power in society, and an oppressed class which is disempowered and lives in poverty, or near poverty and this is fundamentally unjust by objective standards. Marxism also claims for itself that it is offering an objectively true historical account of how capitalism came to prominence, and an objectively true account of how society operates in the capitalist era. Further Marxism makes claims about how this situation can be rectified, what must be done; complete with the prediction that capitalism creates the conditions for its own demise. Marxism also makes a number of claims about human nature, and how capitalism interacts with said human nature.
Taken as a whole then, the Marxists make objective claims about morality and about the world, and the Marxist has prescriptions for how humanity should move forward in light of these moral claims. This means that Marxism constitutes a grand narrative about humanity.
Postmodernism, on the other hand, is a philosophy that is skeptical of Grand-narratives about humanity, objective claims about reality, and objective claims about morality. According to postmodernism, all truth, knowledge, standards, and norms are socially constructed. Further, there are no objective, absolute, universal standards for truth, goodness, beauty, right, wrong, and so fourth. Where Marxism rests some of its claim to legitimacy on the idea that it is a science of how society operates, postmodernism denies that science is objective and true in the way that we suppose. This is because science is, on the postmodern view, a grand story about humanity which makes objective truth claims and postmodernism is skeptical of both objective truth claims and grand stories about humanity. According to postmodernism what matters is local narratives that are valid or invalid according the standards that are social constructed by a given community according to that community’s beliefs, values, and practices. There is no valid, right, correct, legitimate metanarrative or grand story about humanity. There are no universal, objective, absolute moral claims that are true for all people in all times. There are no universal objective, absolute, truth claims that are true for all people at all times that we can know to be true. Some postmodernists will not go so far as to deny that truth exists, but will say that for one reason or another while the truth may be “out there” in the world, we cannot know what is true with any certainty because we are flawed, self-interested, and have biases that warp our ability to judge what is true; and all we have is our own perspective, which is finite, limited, and subjective.
All of this leaves us with the following:
1. Marxism is a grand meta narrative that claims to tell an objectively true story about capitalism and society, and then makes a set of moral claims that Marxists also claims are objectively correct. Marxism is providing a grand narrative about the way the world really is, and makes a number of moral claims regarding how the world ought to be.
2.Postmodernism is skeptical of both the idea of metanarratives and the possibility of universally valid objective standards for truth and morality that are employed by the Marxists. As such, postmodernism fact rejects the entire conceptual tool set that Marxism is using. Marxism makes objective truth claims, objective moral claims, and tells a grand narrative about humanity; while postmodernism is skeptical of grand narratives about humanity and the possibility of graping objective truth or objective morality.
3. Marxism and postmodernism are incompatible and cannot be fused because the core assumptions of postmodernism directly contradict and are directly opposed to the core assumptions and aims of Marxism.
Before we go any further, I want to first undercut the credibility and plausibility of the claim that Marxism and postmodernism can’t mix. To do this, I’ll lay out some cases where Postmodernism and Neo-Marxism are clearly mixing in spite of the claim that Marxism and postmodernism can’t mix. We will start with a quote from an interview Michael Foucault, one of the most influential postmodernists, in which he is discussing his use of Marx’s work (bolding is mine):
Q: You seem to have kept a certain distance from Marx and Marxism; this was said against you already about The Archaeology of Knowledge.
M: But there is also on my part a sort of game about this. I often quote concepts, texts and phrases from Marx, but without feeling obliged to add the authenticating label consisting of a footnote and a laudatory phrase to accompany the quotation. Provided you do that, you're regarded as someone who knows and reveres Marx and will be suitably honoured in (so-called) Marxist journals. But I quote Marx without saying I am, without quotation marks, and because people are unable to recognize Marx's texts I am considered to be someone who doesn't quote Marx. Does a physicist feel it necessary to quote Newton and Einstein when he writes a work of physics? He uses them, but he doesn't need the quotation marks, the footnote and the eulogistic comment to prove how completely he is being faithful to the Master's thought. And because other physicists know what Einstein did, what he discovered and proved, they can recognize him in what the physicist writes. It is impossible at the present time to write history without using a whole series of concepts directly or indirectly related to Marx's thought and situating oneself within a horizon of thought which has been defined and described by Marx. One might even wonder what difference there could ultimately be between being a historian and being a Marxist.”1
What we see here is that Michael Foucault, one of the leading lights of postmodernism and in fact the most widely quoted postmodernist of the 20th century, admits that he is playing a game when it comes to quoting Marx. He freely admits to quoting Marx, he just doesn’t tell people he is quoting Marx, and he doesn’t include quotation marks or citations. He also claims that he is himself a historian, and that it is impossible to do history without using Marxists concepts. Not only is this not honest, it is also plagiarism.
This means one of the original postmodernists, and perhaps the most influential postmodernist, is claiming that he quotes Marx (without citing Marx in footnotes or using quotations) and that he is also using concepts that are from Marx while he is situated in a “horizon of thought which has been defined and described by Marx.” Clearly Marx’s philosophy is influencing the work of the most cited postmodernist in the academic world: Michel Foucault.
The second wrench I would like to throw in the gears of the idea that postmodernism and Marxism cannot be fused because they are fundamentally incompatible comes to us from the Social Justice activist literature. The book “Beautiful Trouble: A toolbox for Revolution,” is a how-to guide for social justice activists which provides them with tactics, theories, principles, and case studies to help them agitate for their political ideology.
This book freely makes use of theories that come from both Marxists and Postmodernists even though these two philosophies are supposedly opposed to one another. It has a section on the theory of cultural hegemony created by Italian Neo-Marxist Antonio Gramsci, and a section on the “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” a book by the Brazilian Neo-Marxist Paulo Freire. Beautiful Trouble also has a section on “Intellectuals and Power,” which focuses on the theorizing of the Postmodern Philosopher Michael Foucault. Again, here we see Marxist and Postmodern ideas being advanced in the same book even though these philosophies are supposedly incompatible. 2
What I want you to see here is that in spite of the claim that postmodernism and Marxism cannot be fused, the activists and intellectuals in the Critical Social Justice movement clearly have no problem drinking from the wells of both Neo-Marxism and postmodernism. In other words, the alleged incompatibility of postmodernism and Marxism has not stopped Critical Social Justice activists from making use of ideas that come from both Marxists and postmodernists as they seek to advance their worldview, ideology, politics, and social agenda.
Clearly Neo-Marxism and Postmodernism are not nearly as far apart as our critics have claimed.
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The evolution of Marxism.
Neo-Marxism of the 20th and 21st century is very different from the original work that was done by Karl Marx during the 19th century. The claim that postmodernism and Marxism are incompatible at the original versions of Marxism and Postmodernism and concludes that those original versions are utterly incompatible. The problem with his idea is that Marxism did not “freeze” after Karl Marx died, Marxist thinkers and philosophers continued to theorize about society and as a result Marxist thought evolved significantly after Karl Marx died. One result of that theorizing was NEO-MARXISM, a system which accepted a number of Marx’ ideas and theories, but which made significant changes to the way Marxists conceived of the world.
As Marxism evolved into Neo-Marxism it made a number of changes that allowed it to be fused with a more mature and well developed version of postmodernism. While it is possible that 19th century Marxism may not be compatible with 1970’s style postmodernism, 21st century Neo-Marxism is completely compatible with 21st century postmodernism.
The original Marxism was in no small part a response to capitalism. Marx focused a lot of his fire on the capitalist system, and the distribution of wealth and capital. For decades after Marx first established his social, political, and economic theories, Marxist literature tended to focus on how things were related to economics, the distribution of wealth, land ownership, and other things relating to the material conditions of society. However, over time Marxist theorists began to change the focus of their criticism, eventually moving from a focus on economics to a focus on culture. Let’s look at how this shift occurred, beginning the work of the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci.
Gramsci Theorized that it was not sufficient to grab control of government, institutions, and “the means of production” in order to establish the society the Marxists wanted. Gramsci realized that if the culture at large did not agree with what the Marxists were doing, and did not like your ideas, they would eventually revolt against the Marxists and kick the Marxists out of power. This meant that the Marxists needed the culture to agree with them in order to avoid getting kicked out of power. The meant the Marxists needed to gain control of the culture, and for that reason the Marxists needed to shift their focus from economics to culture. For our purposes I will refer to the version of Marxism that has shifted it’s focus from economics to culture as “Neo-Marxism.” The book “Beautiful Trouble” describes the shift as follows (bolding is mine):
“Cultural hegemony is a term developed by Antonio Gramsci, activist, theorist, and founder of the Italian Communist party. Writing while imprisoned in a Fascist jail, Gramsci was concerned with how power works: how it is wielded by those in power and how it is won by those who want to change the system. The dominant idea at the time amongst Marxist radicals like himself was that in order to attain power you needed to seize the means of production and administration — that is, take over the factories and the state. But Gramsci recognized that this was not sufficient. In his youth, he had witnessed workers take over factories in Turin, only to hand them back within weeks because they were unsure what to do with the factories, or themselves. Gramsci had also observed the skill of the Catholic Church in exercising its power and retaining the population’s allegiance. Gramsci realized that in order to create and maintain a new society, you also needed to create and maintain a new consciousness.
The repository of consciousness is culture. This includes both big-C Culture, culture in an aesthetic sense, and small-c culture, culture in an anthropological sense: the norms and mores and discourses that make up our everyday lives. Culture, in this sense, is what allows us to navigate our world, guiding our ideas of right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, just and unjust, possible and impossible. You may be able to seize a factory or storm a palace, but unless this material power is backed up by a culture that reinforces the notion that what you are doing is good and beautiful and just and possible, then any gains on the economic, military, and political fronts are likely to be short-lived.”3
The early Marxists thought the economic and political realms were the realms that needed to be seized in order to take power. As we have just seen Gramsci realized that economic and political power is not enough, you need the culture to back you up in order for your political ideology and attempts to take power to be seen as legitimate. In order to gain control over the culture the Marxists would need to develop theories regarding how they could gain dominance over the culture and exercise what Gramsci termed “cultural hegemony.”
The shift is focus from economics and political power to cultural is a key step, and perhaps THE key step in paving the way for Neo-Marxism to be fused with Postmodernism.
Gramsci was not the only Marxist who brought in the shift from economics to culture. There were a number of other Marxist theorists in the early part of the 20th century that were also beginning to shift their focus toward the culture.
Another key player in the Neo-Marxist shift from economics to culture was the so-called “Frankfurt School” which consisted of Marxist academics at the Institute for Social Research which was first located in Germany, then moved to Columbia University in the U.S.. The theorists at the Frankfurt School also played a major role in Marxists shifting their focus from economics to culture. As Jay Martin writes (bolding is mine):
“In the meantime, the Institute began to direct most of its attention towards an effort to understand the disappearance of “negative,” critical forces in the world. In effect, this meant a turning away from material (in the sense of economic) concerns, although in the work of Pollock, Grossmann, and others they were not entirely neglected. Instead, the Institute focused its energies on what traditional Marxists had relegated to a secondary position, the cultural superstructure of modern society. This meant concentrating primarily on two problems: the structure and development of authority, and the emergence and proliferation of mass culture.” 4
As you can see, the move from economics to culture was a move being made by a number of influential Neo-Marxist theorists. The move away from a focus on economic and political power and toward a focus on cultural power and control of the means of cultural production is extremely important because culture is one of the central objects of postmodern theory. Postmodernism is heavily invested in studying things like language, power, social construction, knowledge production, and so fourth. In short, postmodern philosophy is heavily concerned with how culture is produced and what postmodern philosophy takes to be the implications of how culture is produced and maintained. For this reason the shift from economics to culture made by the Neo-Marxists is very important for understanding how Neo-Marxism and postmodern philosophy can be fused.
We can’t include every theorist who participated in the Neo-Marxist shift from economics to culture, but I hope the examples provided will give you the general flavour of what is going in the shift from economics to culture. The important thing to understand is that by moving from economics to culture, Neo-Marxism is stepping onto the conceptual and philosophical turf of postmodern philosophy and this helped pave the way for the fusion of Neo-Marxism and postmodernism.
Now that we see the shift from economics to culture, we need to focus on another move made by Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci really pushes on the idea that Man has no fixed, inherent, essential nature; he is entirely a product of historical forces. The Marxists always accepted that everything in society was historically contingent, and that man was himself historically contingent, but Gramsci comes right out and says that that there is no transcendent, inherent, objective human nature of any kind (bolding is mine):
“The basic innovation introduced by the philosophy of praxis into the science of politics and of history is the demonstration that there is no abstract "human nature", fixed and immutable (a concept which certainly derives from religious and transcendentalist thought), but that human nature is the totality of historically determined social relations, hence an historical fact which can, within certain limits, be ascertained with the methods of philology and criticism. Consequently political science, as far as both its concrete content and its logical formulation are concerned, must be seen as a developing organism.” 5
“Finally, by also referring to civil society as the ‘State’, Gramsci aims to relativize and historicize the unity of social life, thus opening the way to the challenging of an order that is only such if perceived from the viewpoint of a ‘particular social group’.17 Society, as we have seen with human nature, does not contain any inherent eternal, transcendent principle; its unfolding depends on the constant recomposition of its unity by the dominant, ruling classes.” 6
On this view “man” is entirely constructed, top to bottom, front to back, inside and out, by the historical, cultural, and social forces that he finds himself in. As we will see, this Neo-Marxist conception of human nature is going to turn out to fit quite nicely with the postmodern understanding of human nature. At this point I hope that there is a pattern emerging: namely, that as Neo-Marxism develops they bring in ideas that fit in quite nicely with many of the central tenets of postmodern theory.
The third move made by Neo-Marxists has to do with the idea of objective truth. Quoting Gramsci again (bolding is mine):
“However, if one analyses this idea it is not all that easy to justify a view of external objectivity understood in such a mechanical way. It might seem that there can exist an extra-historical and extra-human objectivity. But who is the judge of such objectivity? Who is able to put himself in this kind of "standpoint of the cosmos in itself" and what could such a standpoint mean? It can indeed be maintained that here we are dealing with a hangover of the concept of God, precisely in its mystic form of a conception of an unknown God.”7
Gramsci’s point here is that it is not possible for anyone to have epistemic objectivity, that the kind of epistemic objectivity that enlightenment liberalism seeks with respect to truth and knowledge is eludes us. On Gramsci’s view, getting a grasp of objective, timeless, absolute truths about the world is simply not possible.
The idea that it was not possible for people to get a hold of anything like absolute, universal, objective truth was also echoed by members of the Frankfurt School. As Martin Jay writes (bolding is mine):
“If Critical Theory can be said to have had a theory of truth, it appeared in its immanent critique of bourgeois society, which compared the pretensions of bourgeois ideology with the reality of its social conditions. Truth was not outside the society, but contained in its own claims. Men had an emancipatory interest in actualizing the ideology.
In rejecting all claims to absolute truth, Critical Theory had to face many of the problems that the sociology of knowledge was trying to solve at the same time.”8
I want to stress that this view is not, by itself, the same view as held by the early postmodernists. While the Frankfurt School did not have the same focus on language, power, and discourses as postmodernism, it did share with postmodernism the idea that “truth” is a social object that is embedded within a particular social context. That, coupled with the claim that there is no way to get a “God’s eye view” of the world” led certain Frankfurt school theorists to conclude that there was no absolute, objective, universal, timeless truth that could transcend any particular social context. On the Neo-Marxist view all truth claims are socially and historically contingent, and therefore cannot be timeless or universal in the way enlightenment liberals want truth claims to be.
I want to stress that while the Neo-Marxists were not straightforwardly postmodern, we are seeing the emergence of themes that are right at home with postmodern philosophy. In this sense we might see the Neo-Marxism of the Frankfurt School as setting the table for postmodernism because it does the work of pulling truth out of the real of the realm of the absolute, universal, objective, and timeless, and instead locates it in the realm of the contingent, social, historical, and political.
With all this in view we now turn to the work of Paulo Freire and how his work helped to pave the way for the fusion of postmodernism with Neo-Marxism. Freire as a committed Marxist who worked as an education theorist. He developed a theory of teaching that eventually came to be called “Critical Pedagogy.” Freire thought that teaching should be explicitly political, and the goal of the teacher in the classroom was to help students see the world through the lens of a particular sort of Neo-Marxist understanding of the world. This is why in “Stanley Aronowitz and Giroux’s Education Under Siege (1985), was dedicated to “Paulo Freire who is a living embodiment of the principle that underlies this work: that pedagogy should become more political and that the political should become more pedagogical.”9 (bolding is mine)
Freire thought that education ought to be political in a very strong sense, and that politics was indeed weaved through every aspect of education. The ascendancy of Freire’s view opened the door to theories of education that did away with the assumptions about objectivity and epistemic neutrality that were once hallmarks of a liberal education and instead placed politics and power at the center of educational theory. Where liberals insisted on political neutrality in the classroom, Freire thought political neutrality was impossible because all education comes loaded with a set of norms and values, and norms and values are political. As such, Freire’s work takes education to be entirely political, and as such his analysis of education proceeds along political lines. For this reason Freire takes for granted the idea that all education is the appropriate place to challenge the assumptions, values, concepts, ideas, and norms of the political order, including the norms, values, concepts, assumptions, and ideas of what he takes to be the dominant order.10
Freire’s work of challenging the liberal political order operated on a number of ideas that would have been right at home in the postmodern worldview. As Henry Giroux writes (bolding is mine):
“Freire invokes and constructs elements of a social criticism that shares an affinity with emancipatory strands of postmodern discourse. That is, in his refusal of a transcendent ethics, epistemological foundationalism, and political teleology, he further develops a provisional ethical and political discourse subject to the play of history, culture, and power.”11
Here we see another two concepts that are added to the Neo-Marxist library of ideas:
1. The rejection of a transcendent ethics
2. The rejection of epistemological foundations.
As we will see in the upcoming section on postmodernism, the rejection of transcendent ethics and the rejection of epistemic foundations are central to postmodern philosophy. As such, Freire’s rejection of epistemological foundations and transcendent ethics within his Neo-Marxist theories is another development which paves the way for the fusion of postmodernism and Neo-Marxism. Now, Freire is not arriving at his conclusions using the same theoretical tools as the postmodern philosophers. Both the analysis of power, knowledge, and discourses we find in Foucault, and the theory of language that we find in Derrida are absent in those forms from Freire’s works. However, by rejecting transcendent ethics and epistemological Foundations Freire has taken Neo-Marxism one step closer to postmodernism.
The reason this is important is because the objection we began with claimed that certain elements of Marxism were flat out incompatible with postmodernism. What we are seeing here is that as Marxism develops into Neo-Marxism it is integrating a number of ideas that are very compatible with postmodern philosophy. It is the integration of these ideas that paves the way for the fusion of postmodernism and Neo-Marxism.
With all this in view, we can now set out the changes that were made in the development of Marxism to Neo-Marxism which set the table for the fusion of Neo-Marxism with postmodernism. Here are six themes that emerged from Neo-Marxist writings which enable Neo-Marxism to be fused with postmodern philosophy.
1. The shift from material and economic concerns to culture
2. The rejection of objective truth
3. The rejection of transcendent ethics
4. The rejection of epistemological foundations.
5. The rejection of any fixed, abstract human nature.
6. The rejection of the possibility of humans having epistemic objectivity
With this in mind we can now lay out some key elements of postmodernism
Some tenets of Postmodern Philosophy.
Postmodernism is notoriously difficult to define. As noted by William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland:
For one thing, postmodernism is a loose coalition of diverse thinkers from several different academic disciplines, and it would be difficult to characterize postmodernism in a way that would be fair to this diversity. Further, part of the nature of postmodernism is a rejection of certain things—for example, truth, objective rationality, authorial meaning in texts along with the existence of stable verbal meanings and universally valid linguistic definitions—that make accurate definitions possible.”12
Although postmodernism may be hard to define I think we can get a hold of some of the main themes and arguments one finds in postmodern philosophy. As such, I will attempt to give an account of some of the most relevant elements of postmodernism.
Let’s begin with the notion of truth. Postmodernists reject the notion that we are able to create truth claims that corresponds to reality in and absolute and objective way. Quoting William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland again: “Postmodernists reject the correspondence theory of truth. Some eschew any talk of truth at all, while others advance a coherentist or, more frequently, pragmatist notion of truth. The important thing is that truth is relative to a linguistic community that shares the same narrative…There is no objective truth, no God’s eye view of things. Rather, all thought is historically and socially conditioned.”13
Second, postmodernists reject any objective, universal, absolute standards of rationality:
“Postmodernists reject the idea that there are universal, transcultural standards, such as the laws of logic or principles of inductive inference, for determining whether a belief is true or false, rational or irrational, good or bad. There is no predefined rationality. Postmodernists also reject the notion that rationality is objective on the grounds that no one approaches life in a totally objective way without bias. Thus objectivity is impossible, and observations, beliefs and entire narratives are theory laden. There is no neutral standpoint from which to approach the world, and thus observations, beliefs and so forth are perspectival constructions that reflect the viewpoint implicit in one’s own web of beliefs.”14
William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland are not alone in their observation that postmodernism is skeptical of the objectivity of rationality. As Nicholas Shackel writes (bolding is mine):
“By postmodernists” I mean not just self appellating postmodernists such as Lyotard and Rorty, but also post-structuralists, deconstructivists, exponents of the strong programme in the sociology of knowledge, and feminist anti-rationalists. I unite them under the term because, philosophically, they are united by a sceptical doctrine about rationality (which they mistake for a profound discovery): namely, that rationality cannot be an objective constraint on us, but is just whatever we make it, and what we make it depends on what we value. Opponents are held to disguise their self-interested construction of rationality behind a metaphysically inflated view of rationality in which Reason-with-a-capital-R is supposed to transcend the merely empirical selves of rational beings.”15
I hope the point here is clear: Postmodernists believe that, as John Caputo says, Reason is always subverted by interests16 and as such objective rationality untainted by self-interest is simply not possible. I can’t provide a full explanation of the argument that postmodern philosopher give in defense of these positions here, instead I will attempt to give a brief explanation of the postmodern view so that you can get the flavor of how postmodern thinker argue the case.
On a postmodern view of the world there is simply no way for anyone to have an objective view of anything. All viewpoints are merely a view from a point. Postmodern thinkers believe is not possible for anyone to get outside of their cultural upbringing and the way they were socialized. As such the biases, interests, and prejudices that everyone must have inevitably make their way into every judgement, decision, appraisal, analysis, observation or evaluation that occurs. This means no one can never arrive at a truly objective account of anything.
On a postmodern view of the world there are no objective interpretations of either language or the world. Everything can be interpreted and understood in a nearly infinite number of ways, and there is no objective way to decide which interpretation is correct. Any statement put forward as a “fact” can be interpreted in any number of different ways. For example most people would view the statement “men are stronger than women” as an objective statement about the average height of men and women. However, the postmodernist could reinterpret that statement and view it as a merely an underhanded way of asserting that women are weak with the goal of establishing male dominance. On a postmodern view there is no objective way to decide which interpretation is correct.
Thus, even if we could get a truly objective view of the world (which postmodern philosophers believe we cannot) whatever description of the world we provide can be reinterpreted in any number of different ways. It would not be possible to provide an absolute, objective, universal description of anything. Whatever description of the world that we give can be interpreted in many different way and there is no objective way to decide which one of those interpretations ought to be considered “correct.”
The postmodern thinker does not think of truth as “a description of the world which corresponds to reality.” Postmodern thinkers believe that what is true is matter of who gets to decide what is true, and how the get to decide what is true. In other words there are certain people in society who are given the privilege of getting to decide what is true because they have the validity, credibility, legitimacy, social status, and trust that is required to be believed, and thus the things they say are “true” are then accepted as “true” by the society at large. On the postmodern view, a statement becomes “true” because the people in society with the power to decide what is true have said a thing is true. Whether a claim actually matches the world is not what matters. The only way claim X gets to have the status of “true” is when the people in society who have the power to decide what is true have chosen to say that claim X is “true.”
At this point the postmodern person will assert that whichever people in society are the ones who decide what is considered true in the society have their own hidden agendas, ulterior motives, cultural biases, and self-interest. As such, the agendas, motives, biases and self interest of those who decide what is true warps their judgement such that when they decide what is true they do so in a way that serves their own interests. Those who decide what is true only decide that a statement is true when it is in their own interest to do so, or when it aligns with their agenda and motives.
The same goes for knowledge. Knowledge is not a matter of having an awareness of understanding of the way the world really is. For the postmodern thinker knowledge, like truth, is matter of who has the power to decide what counts as knowledge, who is believed, who has credibility, and who has legitimacy. What matters is not what actually corresponds to reality, what matters is who in society gets to decide what counts as knowledge. And, like truth, the people who decide what counts as knowledge do so in a way that benefits themselves and which serves their interests.
To oversimplify the matter for the sake of brevity, the postmodern person thinks that knowledge and power are two features of the same object, and these two features mutually reinforce each other. The people who have power get to decide what counts as knowledge and truth, and the people seen as having knowledge and truth are given additional power. The people who have the power to decide what is true use that position to increase their power, to benefit themselves, to serve their own interests, to maintain their social position, and to increase their social status, social prestige, and clout.
The rejection of objective truth and objective rationality goes together with a third tenet of postmodern philosophy: “Postmodernists reject foundationalism as a theory of epistemic justification.”17 On a postmodern view there is no epistemic bedrock which we can build our knowledge. Our knowledge claims are not grounded in objective principles or properly basic truths which can be known to be true and upon which we can build other knowledge claims. Rather, truth is rooted in historically and socially contingent social processes which admit of no stable epistemic foundation at all.
A fourth tenet of postmodernism is the denial of any absolute, objective, universal moral values. As Jesse John Fleay writes: “Postmodernism is established on the notion that morality is relative. A postmodernist will claim a relationship between two theories regardless of distinct differences. When moral realists describe objective truth, they are not attempting to establish a dogma, they are reporting on individual observations.”18
Fleay is not alone in his conclusions about postmodernism. Brendan Sweetman In his article “Lyotard, Postmodernism, and Religion” does an analysis of postmodernism and in doing so concludes; “So my conclusion is simply stated. Postmodernism leads to moral and epistemological relativism.”19
The argument for this follows the same lines as the argument against objective truth: all moral values are entirely socially constructed, and the construction of moral values is a social process that is done according to the values, biases, and interests of the people doing the construction. As such, the values which are constructed are not timeless, universal, transcendent, and objective, but are rather socially contingent things which serve the interests, aims, goals, and purposes of the people who construct them.
Fifth, Postmodernists reject the idea that there is any fixed human nature. Again, quoting William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland:
“In fact, the self itself is a construction of language. There is no unified, substantial ego. The “self” is a bundle of social roles, such as being a wife, a mother, a graduate student, an insurance salesperson, and these roles are created by the linguistic practices associated with them. For the postmodernist, consciousness and the self are social, not individual.”20
On this view the self, (and by implication human nature) is the product of the social, historical, and cultural forces that produce people withing their historical, cultural, and social context. Rewind the tape of history play it again and the nature of what emerges (including “selves”) might well turn out to be utterly different. As such, the postmodernist concludes that there is not transcendent, inherent, innate human nature. On this view human nature is utterly contingent and nearly infinitely malleable.
Sixth and finally, postmodernists deny the legitimacy and validity of grand stories about humanity, what is often referred to as “metanarratives” (bolding mine):
“According to postmodernists, there are no metanarratives. The notion of a metanarrative has two senses. Sometimes it refers to a procedure for determining which among competing conceptual schemes or worldviews is true or rational. More often, it refers to broad, general worldviews that have come to be accepted by large groups of people, such as Buddhism, atheism, Christianity and so forth. In claiming that there are no metanarratives, postmodernists mean that there is no way to decide which among competing worldviews is true, and more importantly, there is not single worldview true for everyone. There are no metanarratives, only local ones.”21
All told, we have these six tenets of postmodernism that are common in postmodern philosophy and which are woven through the fabric of the postmodern philosophical milieu:
1. postmodernists deny the existence of metanarratives
2. Postmodernists deny objective truth
3. Postmodernists deny that there are any absolute, objective, universal moral values.
4. Postmodernists deny that there are any epistemological foundations
5. Postmodernists reject the idea that there is any fixed, inherent, transcendent, essential human nature
6. postmodernists reject any objective, universal, absolute standards of rationality, and believe objectivity is impossible.
How Neo-Marxism and postmodernism can be fused
Now that we have laid out six elements of postmodernism I want to compare the six elements of postmodernism that I have laid out with the six changes that were made to Neo-Marxism and show you that many of the changes made to Neo-Marxism are right at home with the postmodern view of the world.
You will notice, that in both lists, number 2-6 are very similar. They are not exactly equivalent in every case, but they are incredibly similar. While Neo-Marxists used different tools than the postmodernists to come to their conclusions and they had different theories to justify their conclusions, the similarity between the conclusions is striking. The fact that they come to conclusions that are so strikingly similar means that far from being incompatible, these two philosophies are ripe for some sort of synthesis. I want to state this next point in a very clear way:
While it may be true that 19th century Marxism and mid-to-late 20th century postmodernism were straightforwardly incompatible, The contributions to Marxism made by Marxist theorists like Antonio Gramsci, Paulo Freire, and the Frankfurt School have left us with a version of Neo-Marxism that shares a number of themes, ideas, viewpoints, conclusions, and so fourth with postmodern philosophy.
Now, it is important to note that just because two philosophies share some conclusions, themes, and ideas does not immediately that they are the same thing, or that they can be fused. This is the case here. We still have to deal with the fact that Neo-Marxism vigorously advances a meta narrative that contains a set of moral claims that it thinks we ought to adopt, and Postmodernism is skeptical of meta-narratives, and (at least on the surface) postmodernism seems to eschew moral prescriptivism. We need a way to square the postmodern skepticism of moral prescriptivism and meta-narratives with Neo-Marxisms metanarrative and moral claims.
Turning first to the problem of meta-narratives, it turns out that in spite of their protests to the contrary postmodernists really do accept a metanarrative. The postmodern metanarrative about humanity is the narrative regarding how society is constructed, how reason can be subverted by interests and how language, knowledge, and power are interrelated.
As William Lane Craig and J.P Moreland point out:
“Postmodernists appear to claim that their own assertions about the modern era, about how language and consciousness work and so forth are true and rational, they write literary texts and protest when people misinterpret the authorial intent in their own writings, they purport to give us the real essence of what language is and how it works, and they employ the dichotomy between modernism and postmodernism while claiming superiority for the latter.”22
In providing an account of how language works, how consciousness works, critiques of modernity, objections to modernist philosophy, claims about how power works, claims about how government works, claims about knowledge is created, the development of the history of philosophy, what exists, and a whole host of other issues, postmodern philosophers are providing a map of reality which guides how one engages with the world. What is that if not a metanarrative?
It turns out that postmodernism does in fact accept the validity of it’s own metanarrative such that it is. It appears that the skepticism of meta-narratives only applies to OTHER metanarratives, the postmodernists apply no such skepticism to their own meta-narrative.
So, what about the problem of moral claims?
Neo-Marxism certainly has a set of moral values that it advances, and postmodernism is skeptical of the possibility of transcendent moral values. Isn’t this still and obstacle to the fusion of Neo-Marxism and postmodernism. At this point the eagle-eyed reader will have noticed that Neo-Marxism continues to advance it’s moral prescriptions even though it denies the possibility of transcendent ethics. The way the Marxist squares this circle is by claiming that his ethics are not universal, they are relative to a particular historical and social situation. So the Neo-Marxist will claim his ethics are legitimate given the context of 21st century capitalism, but might not be relevant in some other social and historical context. Set aside whether this move is valid, it is a move that the Neo-Marxist has available to him. The question is how can postmodernism (which is skeptical of moral prescriptions generally) be fused with a Neo-Marxist philosophy which vigorously advances a set of moral prescriptions?
In order answer that question we need to discuss cryptonormativism. I am going to argue that far from being skeptical of moral prescriptions, postmodern philosophers were in fact advancing moral prescriptions of a certain sort in their own writing.
Cryptonormativism is, in short, the charge that postmodern philosophers and thinkers insert their morals values and moral frameworks into their writing while at the same time denying that they are doing any such thing.
The Canadian Philosopher Joseph heath discussed the phenomenon of cryptonormativism in a blog post where he summarizes it as follows:
“A long time ago, Habermas wrote a critical essay on Foucault, in which he accused him of “cryptonormativism.” The accusation was that, although Foucault’s work was clearly animated by a set of moral concerns, he refused to state clearly what his moral commitments were, and instead just used normatively loaded vocabulary, like “power,” or “regime,” as rhetorical devices, to induce the reader to share his normative assessments, while officially denying that he was doing any such thing. The problem, in other words, is that Foucault was smuggling in his values, while pretending he didn’t have any.”23
In order to get a better grasp on the precise point here, let us go through exactly what Habermas had to say on the matter. Habermas wrote as follows:
“”It remains, finally, to examine whether Foucault succeeds in escaping the cryptonormativism of which the human sciences that preen themselves of their value-freeness are guilty of in his own view.”24
Habermas is arguing that Foucault has done the very thing that Foucault accused others of doing: sneaking in a set of values under the guise of value-neutrality.
Habermas elaborates further (bolding is mine):
“ Genealogical historiography is supposed to reach behind the discourse totalities (within which alone disputes over norms and values occur) with a strictly descriptive attitude. It brackets normative validity claims as well as claims to propositional truth and abstains from the question of whether some discourse and power formations could be mor legitimate than others. Foucault resists the demand to take sides; he scoffs as the “gauchist dogma” which contends that power is evil, ugly, sterile, and dead and that that upon which power is exercised is “right, good, and rich.” For him, there is not “right side.””25
Habermas is pointing out that Foucault is claiming to be providing a purely neutral account regarding the relationship of power, discourse, and their relationship. Foucault claim his analysis does not pick sides, he is merely describing the way that power operates in society without making a judgement as to whether or not some uses of power are more legitimate than others.
Habermas then goes on to point out that Foucault “understands himself as a dissident who offers resistance to modern thought and humanistically disguised disciplinary power.”26 The question is, if Foucault’s analysis is neutral, how can he at the same time be any kind of dissident, for being a dissident against power is to pick a side: the side that opposes the current powers that be, and Foucault claims he is not picking sides.
In a debate with the linguist Noam Chaomsky Foucault made the following remark: “It seems to me that the real political task in our contemporary society is to criticize the workings of institutions -- particularly the ones that appear to be neutral and independent -- and to attack them in such a way that the political violence, which has always exercised itself obscurely through them, will finally be unmasked so that one can fight against them.”27
It is clear then that in spite of his claims to the contrary Foucault is in fact picking sides, and does think that there is a need to unmask and fight against the exercise of certain forms of power. This means that Foucault is making a moral claim about the legitimacy of certain forms of power even though he claims his analysis is value free. Habermas sees this clearly and goes on the put his finger on exactly what the problem is (bolding is mine):
“If it is just a matter of mobilizing counter power, of strategic battles and wilt confrontation, why should we muster any resistance at all against this all pervasive power circulating in the bloodstream of the body of modern society instead of just adapting ourselves to it? Then the geneology of knowledge as a weapon would be superfluous as well. It makes sense that a value-free analysis of the strengths of weaknesses of the opponent is of use to one who wants to take up the fight – but why fight at all? “Why is struggle preferable to submission? Why ought domination to be resisted? Only with the introduction of normative notions of some kind could Foucault Begins to answer this question. Only with the introduction of normative notions could he begin to tell us what is wrong with the modern power/knowledge regime and why we ought to oppose it.”28
The point that Habermas is making is a simple one. Foucault is claiming that he is giving a neutral account of how power operates in society via discourses, at the same time he sees himself as a dissident giving people the tools to resist the very use of power he is trying to describe. Foucault tells us we need the tools to resist domination, while at the same time saying that there is not “right side” and pretending to be a value free analysis. The problem is, that without some kind of morals, normative, value framework Foucault has no grounds for telling us that we ought to resist at all. So Foucault claims to be offering a value free analysis while at the same time using terms like “regime,” “domination,” “subjugation” and the like to induce us to resist the power he is describing.
This means that far from being value-free, Foucault’s entire body of work is animated by a set of moral concerns, and these moral concerns have to exist within some kind of moral framework. The problem is, Foucault refuses to tell us what that framework is or how that framework is justified. Joseph Heath turns out to be exactly correct when he summarizes the point: “The problem, in other words, is that Foucault was smuggling in his values, while pretending he didn’t have any.”29
William C, Placher explains the problem that this raises for Foucault (bolding is mine):
“Foucault attacks the very idea of standards of “good” and “true” because they can serve to support systems of repression. But the moral force of his attack depends on our recognition that such repression is a bad thing. That in turn seems to require some standard by which we can judge that freedom is better than repression- really better, objectively better – just the kind of argument Foucault set out to undermine.”30
The upshot of this is that Foucault’s’ philosophy undermines the possibility of defending any moral framework at all, and so the only option left for Foucault is to smuggle in his moral values while proceeding as though he is making no such moral claims.
The point here needs to be clear: Foucault is setting out to offer us what appears to be purely a descriptive account of how power works, but Foucault also says that he is giving his account in order to provide the understanding needed for unmasking of power in order to resist the power he thinks is oppressive. This means that Foucault smuggles in a set of moral values and a moral framework, and both the values and the framework are left unstated and undefended. The point here is NOT that Foucault is simply contradicting himself. The point here is that Foucault has been sneaking in a moral framework and a set of moral values into his works while officially denying that he has done any such thing.
Given the prominence of Foucault in postmodern scholarship and the fact that a clear reading of postmodern philosophy reveals a similar strategy across postmodern philosophy, this places postmodern philosophy in the same boat as the Neo-Marxists. The denial of transcendent ethics did not stop the Neo-Marxists from continuing to very vigorously advance their moral views. Similarly postmodern skepticism of moral prescriptions did not stop postmodern philosophers from advancing their moral views in a cryptonormative way.
The reason that this is important for us is that part of the objection to the idea that Marxism could fuse with postmodernism was that postmodernism was thought to be relativist and nihilistic while Marxism made very explicit moral claims which Marxism takes to be true. What we now see is that the postmodernists always had a moral point of view and always made moral claims; it’s just that the postmodernists were cryptonormative about their moral framework and moral values. They smuggle in their moral claims without bothering to clearly state and then justify their framework of moral values.
Once we see this, the fact the Neo-Marxists make moral claims is no longer a problem for the postmodern philosopher because the postmodern philosopher is also advancing a set of moral values. This means that the person who wants to fuse postmodernism with Neo-Marxism can simply choose to use Neo-Marxisms moral framework to justify the moral claims cryptonormatively present in postmodern philosophy.
Now we have completed both our account of how Marxism and postmodernism can be fused. We saw that Marxism evolved such a way that changed certain key tenets of Marxism in way which made the resulting Neo-Marxism very much compatible with postmodernism. We saw that many postmodern philosophers (in what one Peter McLaren calls the emancipatory stream of postmodern social theory31) had exactly the sort of moral values that would be right at home with Neo-Marxism, they were just being cryptonormative about it.
With all that on the table, here is a final comparison between the relevant tenets of postmodernism and the tenets of Marxism. (Please note the bolded section)
This is not a comprehensive list of all the tenets of postmodernism or Neo-Marxism. I am also aware that there are a number of streams of Neo-Marxist thought, and a number of streams of postmodern thought. What this list represents is a list of tenets common to the particular strands of Neo-Marxism and postmodernism that were fused in the creation of Critical Social Justice.
As you can see, far from being fundamentally incompatible, these ideas fit together like a hand in the glove. The postmodern metanarrative (with its emphasis on language, knowledge, power, discourse, and social construction) gives the Neo-Marxist (who has shifted from a focus on economics to a focus on culture) a number of new tools with which to do his analysis of society. As such, the enterprising social theorist can, with a little work, easily avail themselves of the most potent ideas from both Neo-Marxism and postmodernism.
This is in fact what happened. Social Theorists in the academy readily availed themselves of social theories from both postmodern thinkers and Neo-Marxist thinkers as they sought to create theories that would help them pursue their political and social agenda. Mark Lilla described this perfectly in the New York Review of Books (bolding is mine):
“Academic postmodernism is nothing if not syncretic, which makes it difficult to understand or even describe. It borrows notions freely from the (translated) works of Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, Julia Kristeva—and, as if that were not enough, also seeks inspiration from Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and other figures from the German Frankfurt School. Given the impossibility of imposing any logical order on ideas as dissimilar as these, postmodernism is long on attitude and short on argument. What appears to hold it together is the conviction that promoting these very different thinkers somehow contributes to a shared emancipatory political end, which remains conveniently ill-defined.”32
Like cooks in the kitchen, activist scholars made the stew of Critical Social Justice/wokeness by borrowing intellectual ingredients from a number of different thinkers from both the postmodern and Neo-Marxist tradition. By doing this the enterprising theorist will be able to fuse these streams of Neo-Marxism and postmodernism into a seemingly coherent worldview which they can then use in the service of advancing their political aims.
It is my hope that this essay will provide the reader with a clear explanation of how Neo-Marxism and postmodernism were fused so that we can put to rest the idea that no such fusion was possible. The goal here was not to supply and exhaustive account of all of the work that was done in the fusion of Neo-Marxism and postmodernism, but to provide a conceptual roadmap which sets out the conceptual and theoretical changed that occurred which allowed for the fusion of Neo-Marxism and Postmodernism.
In my next essay I will provide a more detailed explanation of how exactly the fusion of Neo-Marxism and postmodernism actually occurred. In that essay I will give an explanation of the way that certain Neo-Marxist methods, ideas, and concepts were used alongside postmodern philosophical ideas in order to forge new concepts and ideas that came to be the building blocks of Critical Social Justice.
Thank you for reading.
Michael Foucault, From: Prison Talk: An interview with Michael Foucault” in: POWER/KNOWLEDGE: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, Ed. Colin Gordon (Pantheon books, New York, 1972) P. 52-53
David Oswald Mitchell, Andrew Boyd. Beautiful Trouble: A toolbox for Revolution, (OR Books, London. 2012) P. 222-223, PP 240-241
David Oswald Mitchell, Andrew Boyd. Beautiful Trouble: A toolbox for Revolution, (OR Books, London. 2012) P. 222-223
Jay, Martin. The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950 (Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism Book 10) (pp. 84-85). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.
Gramsci, Antonio . Selections from the Prison Notebooks (p. 288). UNKNOWN. Kindle Edition.
Filippini, Michele. Using Gramsci: A New Approach (Reading Gramsci) (p. 46). Pluto Press. Kindle Edition.
Gramsci, Antonio . Selections from the Prison Notebooks (p. 688). UNKNOWN. Kindle Edition.
Jay, Martin. The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950 (Weimar and Now: German Cultural Criticism Book 10) (p. 63). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.
Gottesman, Isaac. The Critical Turn in Education (Critical Social Thought) (p. 24). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
You can Read Freire’s ideas about this here: (Freire, P., & Ramos, M. B. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, Seabury Press.)
Henry Giroux. “Paulo Freire and the Politics of Postcolonialism.” Journal of Advanced Composition 12, no. 1 (1992): p.15–26)
J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, (IVP Academic: an imprint of Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois. 2003) pp. 144-145
J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, (IVP Academic: an imprint of Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois. 2003) p. 146
((J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, (IVP Academic: an imprint of Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois. 2003) p. 146
Nicholas Shackel, The Vacuity of Postmodernist Methodology. Metaphilosophy. Vol. 36 April 2005 pps. 295-320.
John Caputo, Radical Hermeneutics: Repitition, Deconstruction, and the Hermeneutic Project, (Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis. 1987) p.234
J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, (IVP Academic: an imprint of Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois. 2003) p.146
Jesse John Fleay, “Morals Relativism vs. Moral Realism in the Postmodern Myth. From “What Comes After Postmodernism in Educational Theory.” Ed. Michaels Peters, Mark Tesar, Liz Jackson, Tina Beasley. Routlage, 2020)
Sweetman, Brendan. Lyotard, Postmodernism, and Religion. Philosophia Christi Vol 7. No. 1. P. 151
J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, (IVP Academic: an imprint of Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois. 2003) p.148
J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, (IVP Academic: an imprint of Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois. 2003) p.149
J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, (IVP Academic: an imprint of Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois. 2003) p.151
Joseph Heath, The Problem with Critical Studies, In Due Course: A Canadian Public Affairs Blog. https://web.archive.org/web/20220127194902/http://induecourse.ca/the-problem-with-critical-studies/
Jurgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, Trans. Fredrick Lawrence. Polity Press (In association with Blackwell publishers), Cambridge, U.K.. 1987) p.282
Jurgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, Trans. Fredrick Lawrence. Polity Press (In association with Blackwell publishers), Cambridge, U.K.. 1987) p.282
Jurgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, Trans. Fredrick Lawrence. Polity Press (In association with Blackwell publishers), Cambridge, U.K.. 1987) p.282
Noam Chomsky, Public Debate with Foucault available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wfNl2L0Gf8 Comment is at 40:06
Jurgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, Trans. Fredrick Lawrence. Polity Press (In association with Blackwell publishers), Cambridge, U.K.. 1987) p. 283-284
Joseph Heath, The Problem with Critical Studies, In Due Course: A Canadian Public Affairs Blog. https://web.archive.org/web/20220127194902/http://induecourse.ca/the-problem-with-critical-studies/
William C. Placher, Unapologetic Theology: A Christians Voice in a Pluralistic Conversation. (Lousiville: Westminster John Knox, 1989,) p.94
Peter McLaren, Schooling the Postmodern Body: Critical Pedagogy and the Politics of Enfleshment. The Journal of Education Vol. 170, No. 3, Schooling in the Postmodern Age (1988), pp.77
Mark Lilla, The Politics of Jacques Derrida. New York Review of Books, June 25, 1998 issue (online version: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1998/06/25/the-politics-of-jacques-derrida/) )