"And you know, of course, what the ultimate postmodernism is."
This glib exchange was uttered over the crib of a still young postmodernism between a believer and a skeptic, who called postmodern-ism, among other, rude, names, "merely modernism by other means" and (echoing Marx's famous aphorism) "the farce of which modernism was the tragedy."
But the skeptic has proven prophetic: after the irrationalist nihilism of the postmodernists, snide, ironical, and grinning, a far more serious form of irrationalism has come to dominate -
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authoritarian, blood-thirsty, and suicidal - a wave of religious fundamentalisms, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, even Hindu, that are now car-rying or threatening turmoil to much of our world, with ourselves often the center and target.
What postmodernist attackers of reason, such as Derrida and Foucault, have failed to recognize is that respect for reason is, and has been since the example of Socrates, freedom's, and the indi-vidual's, strongest moral support against abuses of power. And they have forgotten one of the essential lessons of the late, unlamented 20th century: that irrationalism has no defense against - when it does not lead actively to - authoritar-ianism, fascism, and other forms of tyranny.
Postmodernism is a slippery term. It has been applied to architecture to describe the work of