Tuesday 19 March 2013

The nearest thing to an intellectual guru?

I'm very grateful to Jonathan Calder for calling me "the nearest thing the Liberal Democrats have to an intellectual guru".  If true, this may be a measure of the Lib Dems intellectual difficulties, but let's look at the hopeful side - it makes me feel I have something to live up to...

So let me, for a moment, act like the nearest thing to an intellectual guru.  I promise it won't be for long, but these somewhat philosophical issues are important.

"I suspect I have more time for postmodernism than he does (nor do I believe the concept needs a hyphen)," says Jonathan.  Which is good: we can have one of those rare things: a Lib Dem debate about ideas (or hyphens).

He recommends that we read Richard Rorty's Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, which I also recommend.  He also defends postmodernism in his essay 'Philosophy as a transitional genre' and says this:

‘Once again, I am telling the old Nietzschean story about how ‘‘Truth’' took the place of ‘‘God’’ in a secular culture, and why we should get rid of this God-surrogate in order to become more self-reliant."

This is important because it is the intellectual foundations of the modern world, that truth is relative.  I have my truths; you have yours.  It is the basis of tolerance, but it is also the result of a corrosive kind of liberalism - which destroyed all those things that kept mankind in tyranny, yet keeps on corroding - family, community and all the rest.

It may indeed be impossible to find the objective truth in this world, but that doesn't mean that nothing is true.  What's more that fact should be absolutely vital to Liberals everywhere, because it is the antidote to tyranny.  If we are caught in the Matrix, or are subjects of Big Brother, and they weave their own ersatz truth around us, the only way out is to assert an absolute truth.  

We escaped from Stalin because there was an objective reality beyond.  Without that, any corporate monster can control our whims and thoughts and, after all, what is our truth against theirs.  

So postmodernism isn't enough, it seems to me.  That is why the debate about what comes next, which I am struggling to launch, is important.  So read my new ebook The Age to Come: Authenticity, Postmodernism and how to survive what comes next and see what you think.

Richard Rorty's book costs £25.99.  Mine only costs £1.99!

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