For most contemporary theorists, the death of postmodern thought as a theoretical impulse and critical divide has become a given. Yet, since the end of the 1990s a variety of important strands of social and political thought—queer theory, feminism, and postcolonialism to name but a few—have taken up and advanced poststructuralist emphases on language and discourse that are derivative of postmodern theory. In this context, the article considers two of the most central and original postmodern thinkers, Jean-François Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard, to illustrate the political entanglements of postmodern and liberal thought. Through this investigation the article illuminates the way these authors’ works on the political potencies of language raise important questions for the relevancy of poststructuralist political thought for contemporary critical thinking in the context of the global expanse of neoliberal capital. The article initiates an original dialogue between two poststructuralist authors and raises this to a second engagement with current debates over the crises of critical thought and, by extension, carries contemporary relevance as well.
Postmodern Paper Tiger: Lyotard, Baudrillard, and the Contemporary Politics of Poststructuralist Subversion
Eric Goodfield is assistant professor of political theory in the Department of Political Studies and Public Administration and assistant professor in the Civilization Studies Program at the American University of Beirut. He is the author of Hegel and the Metaphysical Frontiers of Political Theory (2014) and has recently published articles on the history of political thought, political philosophy, and comparative political theory. His upcoming book (with Anzhela Harutyunyan) is titled After Revolution: The Political and Historical Amnesia of Post-Modernity.
Eric Goodfield; Postmodern Paper Tiger: Lyotard, Baudrillard, and the Contemporary Politics of Poststructuralist Subversion. Cultural Politics 1 July 2020; 16 (2): 233–252. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/17432197-8233420
Download citation file: