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Modernism, an epoch of false money allied with false culture.
~ Alexander Stoddart
In writing about what historian David Barton calls “the five malpractices of modern history,” we formerly discussed Deconstructionism, meaning to overturn all the binary oppositions of metaphysics, and Poststructuralism, an idea marked by a rejection of totalizing, essentialist, foundationalist concepts such as the reality of truth or the will of God. A third common attack device by the left against God, history, truth, tradition and American exceptionalism is Modernism, which Barton writes “examines historical events and persons as if they occurred and lived today rather than in the past. It severs history from its context and setting, misrepresenting historical beliefs and events.”
Modernism is the idea that human beings as individuals can define themselves through their own intrinsic resources and form their own ideas of existence without help from family, humanity, tradition or God. American modernism, like modernism in general, is a movement of philosophical thought that establishes the power of human beings to make, advance and reshape their environment, with the support of scientific knowledge, technology and theoretical experimentation, and is thus in essence progressive, optimistic and humanistic. For example, Barton writes, “Modernists assume that everything is static – that as it is today, so it was then, but to accurately portray history, each group or individual must be measured not by today’s modes of thinking, customs, and usage but rather by the context of their own times.” In other words, Modernism arrogantly and ignorantly judges history through the eyes of the present.
Modernism evolved from Enlightenment philosophers like Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, Kant and Berkeley, rejecting all historical reference. David Harvey’s definition of modernism, in his book “The Condition of Postmodernity,” indicates it “can have no respect even for its own past …”; it must embrace a meaning collected and defined “within the maelstrom of change.” This definition of Modernity links the humanist, atheistic ideas of the Enlightenment thinkers together with the individual efforts working “freely and creatively for the pursuit of human emancipation and the enrichment of daily life.” Early modernists married the Enlightenment ideal with the Progressive movement obsession with human perfection through social engineering, socialism and the welfare state; the rupture with truth, realism, history, tradition and religion accompanied the embrace of the “transitory,” the “fleeting” and the “maelstrom of change.” Yet, with the rise of socialism and the golden age of fascist tyrants of the 20th century – Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito, Mao, Pol Pot, et al. – these optimistic views were abandoned.
In the early 21st century, we see and experience Modernism’s worldview and philosophy throughout culture and society. For example, Glenn Beck’s The Blaze reported that MSNBC Host Melissa Harris-Perry made a number of outrageous statements this week on air and in a recent speech. This radical liberal Tulane professor referenced her grandmother as being “enslaved” and “sold on a street corner in Richmond Virginia.” Perry says of her grandmother that she “never knew anything but slavery for herself.”
It is impossible for Ms. Perry’s grandmother to have been a slave since one’s grandparent must have been born around the 1860s or earlier (think Emancipation Proclamation). According to her website, Ms. Perry herself was born in 1973 to a black father and white mother. Stranger still, she seems to contradict her own story in this tweet: “My grandmother was a domestic in Jim Crow South.”
All of these hyperbolic, deranged comments were not made for shock value only, but Ms. Perry was exhibiting classical Modernist philosophy or ideas that individual persons can define themselves through their own inner resources and create their own vision of existence and realism without help from family, fellow citizens, or tradition. It doesn’t matter what her black grandmother thought about professor Perry’s conflation of her years as a Jim Crow maid for white people. As with Deconstructionism, Poststructionalism and Modernism, truth is irrelevant and bows to Nietzsche’s Will to Power.
When Perry says, “There was no empirical evidence that there was a loving God that had any power. … I mean, if there was a loving God He was pretty pitiful. Or if He was powerful He didn’t seem to love [my grandmother]” – she has moved beyond the realm of racial segregation in the Jim Crow South (e.g., existential, systematic Democratic Party terrorism against blacks) and moved to an irrational, atheistic rant against America’s Judeo-Christian worldview without a shred of independent, verifiable evidence to support her ill-conceived ideas.
When Barton presents his critique of Modernism in the context of contemporary progressive critique of Thomas Jefferson and the constitutional framers, he is not to arguing the irrelevance of absolute truth or that historical periods, revolutions, movements and human beings should not be judged by the absolute standards of good and evil, right and wrong that go beyond all generations – the standards that Jefferson and the Founding Fathers expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Yet this is invariably what occurs when history is presented through the filter of Modernism. Too often today, Jefferson’s life is wrongly judged and critiqued as if he were living now rather than two centuries ago – a practice that produces many flawed conclusions.”
Likewise, President Barack Obama cannot escape the La Brea Tar Pits of Modernism and Postmodernism exhibited in his radical socialist policies over his first term, encapsulated in this single utterance of narcissism – “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Even Obama’s own biographer, the celebrated David Maraniss, found no less than 38 falsehoods in Obama’s first autobiography, “Dreams from my Father,” a book ghost written by Weather Underground terrorist and Obama mentor Bill Ayers.
Traditionalist artist Alexander Stoddart famously characterized Modernism as “an epoch of false money allied with false culture.” Indeed, this is a truly succinct and prescient utterance liberal intellectuals, artists, academics, politicians and judges need to pay heed and learn from and reject Modernism for the sake and survival of all humanity.