Inspired a Quilette post Universalism Not Centrism, I’m working on a classification system that can be applied to ideological groups and individuals, and to summarize key points. The goal is to create a classification system that encompasses most individuals and ideologies.
Intersectionality: a concept in social theory in which the whole is greater than the parts. It is a characteristic of left-liberalism and left-wing philosophies. Taxonomically, it’s not in the same category as postmodernism or critical theory.
Postmodernism: rejection of sweeping narratives, rejection of economic & social determinism; pathos
Deconstruction: rejection of social and economic categories; on the left-right spectrum, generally left-wing in terms of social, cultural, and economic issues; power-dynamics (inequality of power is at the heart of most social problems, whether such inequality is economic or social); individualist ( in contrast to the collectivism of Marxist-Leninism); epistemologically relativist ; pathos
Critical theory: similar individualistic, cultural, and economic themes as postmodernism, but constructionist (meaning it seeks to build theory than deconstruct or reject it; knowledge is independent of the subjective); like postmodernism, it rejects historical and economic determinism; logos
Rationalist: very similar to critical theorist in regard to epistemology, but economically and socially tends to be more classically liberal than Marxist or anarchistic. Individual liberty is very important; logos
The last two categories are so small, there doesn’t seem to be a ‘movement’ or philosophy behind them in the same way postmodernist thought does.
Collectivist far-left & far-right: very strong pathos; themes of postmodernism power-dynamics but more collectivist than the postmodernist or critical-left (most SJWs, BLM, antifa fall under this category); tends to be authoritarian; strong, partisan value system; identity is important. Tumblr-brand SJW-ism tends to have elements of critical theory, is less collectivist, and is less hostile to opposing views than the campus-protest-brand SJW-ism.
There are five major categories which most people full under:
#1. Mainstream left & right; pathos (values before facts, activist mindset); moderate external value system; all IQ levels; moderate internal value system; less collectivist, but more collectivist than rationalists; mot much activism, because they are either too busy with careers and such, or don’t care that much about the issues.
#2. Far-left & far-right; pathos (values before facts; activist mindset); strong external value system; all IQ levels; variable internal value system; collectivist, intersectionality; lots of activism.
#3. Rationalist-left; logos (facts before values, rationalist mindset); in terms of external value system, leans left, possibly libertarian; high-IQ; strong internal value system; more individualistic; less activism.
#4. Rationalist-centrist;logos; moral relativism, libertarian & classical liberal; high-IQ; strong internal value system; more individualistic; less activism.
#5. Rationalist-right; logos (facts before values, rationalist mindset); external value system: leans right and libertarian; high-IQ; strong internal value system; more individualistic; less activism. Most are pacifists, but some such as Ben Shapiro engage in activism.
External value system: “How society & culture should behave.” External things such as political, societal, and culture issues, position on left-right spectrum; moral realism & prescriptivism; value-based.
Internal value system: “How I and those close to me should behave.” Rule-based at the individual level, and includes rules, idealism, and idiosyncrasies. It’s possible to have a strong personal rule-based system (such as opposing media hype and sensationalism, and being strongly fact-based) but still be a moral relativist. This relates to shared narratives and how Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets, /r/badphilosophy, and /r/badeconomics are related even though they are about entirely different topics; the internal value system unites them.
(the internal value system and external systems need more elaboration, for a future post)
(high-IQ people impose cognitive values (such as appeal to logos); the less intelligent impose moral and political/external-values))
#2 can be broken into two groups: high-IQ (2a) and medium & low-IQ (2b). 2a are involved in academia and may include postmodernists and also Twitter and Tumblr activists, and are ‘open to debate’ (meaning they engage the out-group). 2b are the rank-and-file campus protesters and like, and are much less receptive to debate and disagreement with the out-group. 2b are more activist and collectivist than 2a.
The first group includes typical Trump or Hillary voters, but also mainstream pundits such as Sean Hannity and Bill O’reilly.
The second group includes BLM, antifa, SJWs, campus protesters, some on the alt-right (not all), and white nationalists and alt-right (the ones who are mainly engaged in offline activism).
The third group may include Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, Jonathan Chait, Steven Pinker, Jonathan Haidt, Bret Weinstein, but also the ‘weird/esoteric’ Tumblr & Twitter left-wing subcultures.
The fourth group may include Bryan Caplan, Andrew Sullivan, and Tyler Cowen.
The fifth group may include Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro.
2a includes some factions of NRx and the alt-right (especially online, on Tumblr, and 4chan, and maybe Reddit), but also and also left-wing Twitter and Tumblr online activists.
left-wing 2a: Cornel West, Howard Zinn, John Rawls, Noam Chomsky; ring-wing 2a: Richard Spencer, Milo, Greg Johnson, Samuel T. Francis (given that many of these figures are dead or irrelevant, left-wing intellectual activism is dying, if not already dead)
I disagree that centrism does not have a grand narrative; it’s narrative is something similar to the Whig Narrative, shared by classical liberals, which says that scientific reason and democracy are inevitable and desirable. Postmodernists reject the Whig Narrative, but have their own narrative that modernity, which includes capitalism and the logos, is at the crux of social inequality and oppression. Social problems are manifestations of inequities of power, and even language itself can be oppressive if it subliminally expresses the inherent power imbalances of society as manifested by the style and intent of the author.
Some of these categories can be subtle. Philosophically, regarding Marxist-Leninism vs. postmodernism, the former believe in ‘grand narratives’ and are more collectivist; the latter are more individualist and reject such narratives. Postmodernists, however, retain the Marxist belief that individuals are still exploited by capitalism. For Marxists, the alienation stems from capitalism. Regarding postmodernism, modernism is the cause of alienation, in which capitalism plays a role. Both agree that capitalism is deleterious but differ in their solutions.
In terms of modus operandi, due to high IQ, both Marxist-Leninist and postmodernist intellectuals (2a) engage in debate and are individualistic, whereas their low & medium-IQ followers (2b) are hostile to debate and engage in collective forms of activism such as protesting. Due to high IQ and ‘shared narratives’, 2a are often intellectual allies with #3, but also sometimes #4 and even ring-wing members of 2a and #5 (like we see with NRx appropriating themes of Frankfurt School). The major difference between 2a and #5 and #3 is that 2a has a strong external value system and the latter two do not.
The professors in the 60′s and 70′s who promoted communism opposed how Marxist-Leninism marginalized intellectuals. They were sympathetic to ‘class struggle’ but didn’t like the totalitarian and ‘central planning’ aspects of it. But also, many postmodernists and existentialists reject the economic determinism and ‘grand narratives’ of Marxist-Leninism. Lyotard, who coined the term postmodernism, described it as ‘as incredulity toward metanarratives’. In contrast to the determinism of Hegel and Marx–although existentialists argue that individuals are not inherently free, but rather shepherded by societal forces–one can overcome this through the ‘will’, than be powerless to these forces. Heidegger, Derrida, Sartre, and Nietzsche explore this contradiction and conflict between the individual will and society. In the writings of Foucault, who was influenced by Nietzsche’s writings on power, the centrality shifts from one of economics to one of the power relations between the individual and society, and how everything can be reduced to power relations. (Peterson calls it post-Marxism, which departs from the deterministic economic Marxism)
Although pomo leans pathos, it cannot reject all logos and objectivity; otherwise, academic research would not be possible.
In putting these groups on a left-right spectrum (in decreasing order of leftism):
Rank-and-file SJWs, antifa, and campus protesters > Marxist-Leninists > postmodernists > critical theorists > rationalist-left > typical democratic voter > classical liberalism & neoliberalism > rationalist-centrist