The Free Exchange (15-009)

The Free Exchange is a series dedicated solely to answering comments from you. I appreciate your reading and always enjoy hearing from you, even when you disagree. Thank you for your participation.


A Constructivist Approach to Iran Spells Certain Disaster

Black and Red Fan writes:

It’s great to read more about political theory. I think if more people understood the political theory and the root of liberalism/progressivism, the more people will realize how naive and dangerous it is.

The constructionist foreign policy theory as you explained it, falls perfectly within liberalism and their post-modern approach of placing us as God. Instead of recognizing that there is something beyond us that forms the world, liberalism places the liberal and his child-like point of view as king and himself as God; whatever he perceives and dreams up, it must be real and he treats it as such. That is such a dangerous approach to the world, especially when it comes to foreign policy that it is scary to see it, as you explained so well in this article.

I believe we will pay a dear price for this awful deal in the future. But when the consequences of this deal occur, it will be up to us to explain it clearly since the mass media will engage in damage control and a rationalization & defense of this deal since it was done by Obama. That’s always been the most frustrating part; truth gets twisted and distorted just like the consequences of Obama pulling out of Iraq not being blamed on him but on Bush. The non-truth drives me crazy. I think God hard-wired people like us to point out their untruth and clarify the world with truth.

J Hunter:

Thank you. I’m glad you liked this piece. I love political philosophy and theory.

To that end, I’m not sure if postmodernists believe that we’re God or gods. You’re right to point out that postmodernism fits snugly into Leftist thought–it’s just that there has been a change in liberal thought–and in American philosophy altogether.

America, as a country, was founded by modernists–people who believed that truth existed, but that it had to be determined via scientific means and less through supernatural means. Modernists, those responsible for the ugly chapters of the 20th century (fascism, Nazism, and communism), are much more likely to consider enlightened humans as God or gods than the postmodernists.

Postmodernists challenge the idea that a God or gods exist. They challenge whether or not truth exists, and they definitely challenge the idea that truth can be objective. This ideology is a cancer when it comes to policymaking–especially in the realm of foreign policy. It undermines authority and sovereignty–the very things necessary for a foreign policy to exist. It leads to isolationism and caprice. Constructivism is its feeble brainchild.

Your calling this worldview “childlike” is spot on. What comes immediately to my mind is a 2006 Katie Couric interview with then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The two women were discussing the Iraq War, and Couric challenged Rice’s claim; that we are right to fight for the freedoms of the Iraqi people that we, westerners, enjoy; with a question echoing a liberal and libertarian talking point that drips with postmodernist slime: “To quote my daughter, ‘Who made us the boss of them?’”

The question supports postmodernist thinking because to the postmodernist, there can be no answer. Rice couldn’t have answered “God,” because postmodernists don’t believe in a uniform reality, let alone, one in which a God can exist and make demands. Had Rice answered, “the Iraqi people,” the postmodernist would “deconstruct” that answer to the point of questioning whether “the Iraqi people,” or any people, could express a unified, intelligible will (How did they make us the boss of them? Did they write a letter that they all signed? If there was a poll, was the question biased? To what degree did they want us to be ‘their boss?’ etc.).

Similarly, postmodernists not only argue that truth cannot be ascertained, but they argue that truth is subjective, so it cannot exist for anyone except whoever accepts a certain version of a truth. Therefore, Couric’s question is rhetorical. No answer could please her (or other postmodernists).

Apply that to foreign policy and postmodernists ask constructivist questions: “What makes us a superpower? What makes Iran a rogue state? Isn’t one man’s terrorist, another’s freedom-fighter? Who’s to say?

Not us.

Constructivism has its place, and that’s in the interpersonal realm. Rightly applied, it goes a long way to explain the effects of stereotyping and prejudice. Elevated to the realm of foreign relations, it is a nightmare–a postmodernist nightmare.


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One comment

  1. Thanks for your comments. To clarify, I meant that post-modern thinking/philosophy/approach (not necessarily the post-modernist who may believe a variety of things) does not believe in God or a higher power; rather it believes in the human being him/herself as the highest authority. This is a natural consequence and companion to post-modern thinking of there is no absolute truth since God would be an absolute truth. And so I was making a generalization about the pattern & companion/same side thinkings of post-modernism and liberalism and atheism.

    In that sense, I would characterize the communists and Nazis as falling into the post-modern camp rather than the modern camp. They were/is incredibly hostile to Christians and banned it completely. And they made up whatever truth they wanted about their respective beliefs and obviously did not believe in the absolute truth of the Bible. That’s a minor side point.

    Nonetheless one of these days, I would love to learn what the origins of post-modernism is. This is the origins of modern liberalism/leftism/progressivism. Exactly when and where and from whom did post-modernism/nihilism/Nietzsche thought begin? That’s a whole another topic that we’ll discuss another day. For now, Iran looms large and dangerous. When this blows, we need to give proper credit to Obama.

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