Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Postmodernism and Capitalism

As Western Culture emerged from WWII and plunged into the Cold War, America enjoyed a great deal of economic growth under the system of capitalism. Perhaps this wealth, coupled with the vague sense of disillusionment that permeated the culture fostered the development of consumerism: the idea that happiness, transcendence and meaning could be enhanced or achieved through the acquisition of products and material goods. ...Then, add in the advent of television and the resulting boom in commercialism. (Commercialism could be defined as transforming every aspect of life into a commodity to be bought and sold for profit and gain.) Thus, Jameson calls postmodernism "the culture of late capitalism." Seeking to fill the void, happiness could be found in the purchase of the new house, the stuff to fill the house and the indulgent services that could be consumed for pleasure. Oddly, this desire to find transcendence became focused primarily on that which can never provide it. The old adage of “if it’s in print, then it must be true” also now applies to the illusion now created by communication via art and commercials in media. Escapism of media prepares Western Civilization to accept distraction and illusion as the primary means of finding transcendence, happiness and fulfillment.

We learned how to be hypnotized by the media, politically correct speech and what postmodern theorist Lyotard calls “metanarratives.” (Metanarrative: a totalizing or global cultural narrative that provides a prototype or parable to define and order knowledge. In good keeping with postmodern analogy, it’s like that culture on Star Trek Next Generation about communication with the race that spoke only in metaphor. “Shaka and the walls fell.” Truth is unique to the understanding of the culture.) Consumers and postmoderns desire this hypnotic illusion and seek it out at great cost. In his book “Real Teens,” Barna’s research demonstrates that “the goal of communication with postmoderns is not knowledge, insight or discovery: It is participation, acceptance and belonging. This may bring greater insight into the changing nature of the ever-present world of entertainment. Rather than provide the audience with beauty, creativity, self-enlightenment or wisdom, postmodern entertainment is all about escapism, exploding accepted limits and exploiting technique.”

The next post moves from the escapism (developing from disillusionment, relative moratilty/situational ethics) into the causative factors of what Barna describes here as "exploding accepted limits and exploiting technique."


Corrie said...
"(Commercialism could be defined as transforming every aspect of life into a commodity to be bought and sold for profit and gain.) "Interesting. This is exactly what is going on in the church and the home schooling movement. I didn't realize that this was post-modernism. I had always thought it was liberal Christianity.I am looking forward to reading this series.
August 3, 2007 12:06 PM

Cindy said...
We're admonished to be in the world and not of the world, but we are still deeply affected by the world in which we live.Acquiring profit always played a major role in civilization and life in general. In postmodernism, we buy the image without considering the merit of the product. We buy illusions with hope of finding satisfaction.I'm saddened but not surprised that this is prevalent within subcultures of the church with the church as a subculture of the society at large.
August 3, 2007 5:17 PM