Even back then it must have been obvious -things were changing. Thousands of new religions sprung up after the War, many of them inspired by Eastern religions of old. The American Hippie culture popped seemingly out of nowhere just after the phoniness of the Idyllic Fifties. There was a whole new way of thinking and with it came Doubt. The ever-important Doubt, the essence of skepticism. All of the sudden, the certainty of the mechanistic mind seemed restrained and close-minded. This was a new age to open minds and seek new ways to do... everything! Every facet of life was to be reexamined; every tradition looked upon with suspicion.
This kind of societal quicksand is vital to all paradigm shifts. This epoch of anarchistic thought is supposed to brainstorm ideas without discrimination and then dump what's bad, save what isn't. Alas, we did not do that. We found comfort in nescience, in pure, unadulterated ignorance. Society wasted this chance of using Doubt as a tool towards knowledge and rather nestled between the arms of Nothingness disguised as the ever meaningless Everything. Doubt was no longer a tool but an end in itself, almost an eerie fetish. Mystery was made a virtue.
It is a humble position, they say: certainty, however reached at, is arrogant, intolerant and Fascistic. Truly, this is the Age of Moral and Social Relativism. If you want to test this claim, please just do the following: gather an attentive audience of random people and -in any context you wish, if any- utter the famous phrase "Everyone is right." If they do not jump at your throat for the intellectual crime of contradicting yourself in a mere two words (the linking verb does not count) you know you are in the good company of dull Relativists.
It may sound a bit harsh -intolerant, even- to accuse them of dullness. They may be perfectly nice and intelligent people otherwise, but concerning Relativism, that is essentially the point, is it not? Any conclusion, any claim, any dogma, must exclude other actual or even potential conclusions by definition. So why not just label everything as equally right and move on without thinking much about it? Of course, this way of thinking ignores that it in itself constitutes a dogma. But that is what you get when you try to reason and show evidence against Rationalism and Empiricism: you are using the very thing you are dismissing in order to dismiss it or, in other words, you are cutting off the tree branch on which you sit. The Postmodernist deceit is that everything is true except anything that does not agree with that unsupported claim -the idea that reality and knowledge are subjective is taken as a principle so it is then impossible to argue for or against anything. They still do it, of course -but they have a handy pseudo-philosophical mantra to defecate as verbal diarrhea whenever they are challenged.
Again, the position of the Relativist is but an insult to skepticism: it takes Doubt and uses it as a shield from knowledge instead of as a tool for knowledge. Indeed, it is easier to just claim that Science is dogmatic and just as fundamentalist as old-time religion than to actually look into how science has discovered what it knows. The Postmodernist fails to understand the importance of methodology in anything and everything. As I outlined in "The Virtue of Faith":
"There is but to reiterate the difference between belief and faith; it doesn't matter how sure or unsure you are about a certain question, but the methodology used to reach at your conclusions. By definition and historical evidence, science adjusts its theories based on new observations; and here faith shows its contrast, when in the same situation shows itself as the denial of said observations so that belief can be preserved."In a way, it is pathetically funny how these people accuse Science of arrogance and pride themselves in humility. These people are only showing their blind haughtiness when they advertise their own humility, but they go a step further and pick on the human enterprise that not only has saved lives beyond counting but is also based on a single foundation: "I do not know". That is the starting line of every scientist, a group of people that, despite the know-it-all stereotype, may be the one group proud to shriek with childlike excitement: "We still don't know!". Because that means there is more to discover, which is the job of a scient-ist.
But perhaps worse than this utter blindness towards methodology is the fall on obscurantism itself. As mentioned above, Doubt becomes the idol, adscribing a virtue to something which is by definition hollow and meaningless. The believers in Postmodernism or, as philosopher Daniel Dennett puts them, the "Murkies" (obscurantists) are sandwiched between the supernaturalists and the enlightened. The Murkies see both of them as dogmatic absolutists just because they are making declarative sentences, not caring at all whether they arrived at their conclusions by blind faith or reason and evidence. Obscurantists fear clearly defined terms because their ideas must be ill-defined in order to avoid being exposed to critical analysis. Worst yet, the professional Postmodernist will not shy away from this: by glorifying the obscure, they make a point of their pride in their ignorance.
Nonetheless, all of this could be forgivable if their humility was something more than false modesty, the nerve-wracking politeness of political correctness -that is to say, lying through their teeth so as to avoid intellectual conflict, which God knows might make them think about something socially relevant. Actually, people who maintain that "everyone is right" are acutely aware that everyone around them maintains dissenting opinions on a myriad of topics. They will think that a certain whoever is wrong when they spout their obvious nonsense and may even reply with the conversation stopper (and plain logical fallacy) "Well, that is your opinion", but they will not have a formal argument, lest they use their discussion capabilities for once.
This behaviour comes from the brain-paralyzing fear of being socially branded as "Intolerant," which as accusations go is just a bit behind "Baby-killing Hitler-lover." This will halt even the most astute individual, so it is seems to be a good argument: "How dare you, mere mortal, interfere with the citizens right to Freedom of Thought and Expression?" Well, I am not. I defend the right of every individual to think and say whatever they please as long as it does not hurt others. I am not keen on censorship laws and maybe, just maybe, draw the line at hate speech. But I do not commit the final failure, the nail in the coffin of the Relativist: I do not think that the fact every individual has the right to think whatever they fancy means that these thoughts are to be inherently respected or even considered automatically right. The person must be respected and treated humanely -but their ideas can be criticized, dissected and yes, even ridiculed, because the argument is being addressed, not the person. However much I ridicule Postmodernism, I am doing it through arguments and not by attacking its supporters personally.
But why all the fuss anyway? Isn't it all mostly harmless hypocrisy? No, it is not. The Postmodernist Deceit lies in the popular spite of Enlightenment, the notion that an intellectual elite is not at all different from a political or financial elite: proficiency and certainty is viewed as inherently dictatorial, whatever the method is that acquired the expertise and however easily the people can verify it. This fraud of the intellect is also responsible for the cultural relativism that lets some people actually accept horrors such as female genital mutilation if there is a religious reason for it. But, as a hobbyist of philosophizing, it is perhaps no accident that for me the worst affront of Postmodernism is its dullness of the intellect -the hijacking of Doubt as an excuse for not thinking, the exaltation of mystery and obscurantism as virtues when they are nothing more than cowardly ways of restricting knowledge and exercising intellectual laziness.
(El artículo traducido al castellano aquí: El engaño posmodernista)